Efficacy of a combined oral contraceptive containing 0.030 mg ethinylestradiol/2 mg dienogest for the treatment of papulopustular acne in comparison with placebo and 0.035 mg ethinylestradiol/2 mg cyproterone acetate

Ernesta Palombo-Kinne, Ilka Schellschmidt, Ulrike Schumacher, Thomas Gräser
Contraception 2009, 79 (4): 282-9

BACKGROUND: Acne is a multifactorial disease characterized by androgenic stimulation of sebaceous glands. Therefore, combined oral contraceptives (COCs) containing anti-androgenic progestogens are suitable candidates for acne treatment. This study aimed to show that a COC containing the anti-androgen dienogest (DNG) is superior to placebo and not inferior to a COC containing the potent anti-androgen cyproterone acetate (CPA) in improving mild to moderate acne.

STUDY DESIGN: Healthy women between 16 and 45 years old with mild to moderate facial acne were randomly assigned to receive ethinylestradiol (EE)/DNG (n=525), EE/CPA (n=537) or placebo (n=264) for six cycles in a multinational, multicenter, three-arm, double-blind and randomized trial. The primary efficacy variables were the percentages of change (from baseline to cycle 6) in inflammatory and total lesion count and the percentage of patients with acne improvement according to the Investigator Global Assessment.

RESULTS: All primary analyses proved that EE/DNG was superior to placebo and non-inferior to EE/CPA (p<.05). For inflammatory lesions, the reduction (+/-SD) rates were -65.6+/-29.9% for EE/DNG, -64.6+/-31.2% for EE/CPA and -49.4+/-41.0% for placebo. For total lesions, the reduction rates were -54.7+/-26.3% for EE/DNG, -53.6+/-27.5% for EE/CPA and -39.4+/-33.6% for placebo. The percentages of patients with improvement of facial acne were 91.9% for EE/DNG, 90.2% for EE/CPA and 76.2% for placebo.

CONCLUSION: EE/DNG was superior to placebo, in spite of the prominent placebo effects, and as effective as EE/CPA in the treatment of mild to moderate acne, thus proving a valid option for the treatment of acne in women seeking oral contraception.

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