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Topical preparations for the treatment of mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris: systematic review and network meta-analysis

Stuart, B., Maund, E., Wilcox, C., Sridharan, K., Sivaramakrishnan, G., Regas, C., Newell, D., Soulsby, I., Tang, K.F., Finlay, A.Y., Bucher, H.C., Little, P., Layton, A.M. and Santer, M. 2021. Topical preparations for the treatment of mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris: systematic review and network meta-analysis. British Journal of Dermatology 185 (3) , pp. 512-525. 10.1111/bjd.20080

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Background Acne is very common and can have a substantial impact on wellbeing. Guidelines suggest first-line management with topical treatments, but there is little evidence regarding which treatments are most effective. Objectives To identify the most effective and best tolerated topical treatments for acne using network meta-analysis. Methods CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase and World Health Organization Trials Registry were searched from inception to June 2020 for randomized trials that included participants with mild/moderate acne. Primary outcomes were self-reported improvement in acne, and trial withdrawal. Secondary outcomes included change in lesion counts, Investigator’s Global Assessment, change in quality of life and total number of adverse events. Network meta-analysis was undertaken using a frequentist approach. Risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Risk of Bias Tool and confidence in evidence was assessed using CINeMA. Results A total of 81 papers were included, reporting 40 trials with a total of 18 089 participants. Patient Global Assessment of Improvement was reported in 11 trials. Based on the pooled network estimates, compared with vehicle, benzoyl peroxide (BPO) was effective (35% vs. 26%) for improving self-reported acne. The combinations of BPO with adapalene (54% vs. 35%) or with clindamycin (49% vs. 35%) were ranked more effective than BPO alone. The withdrawal of participants from the trial was reported in 35 trials. The number of patients withdrawing owing to adverse events was low for all treatments. Rates of withdrawal were slightly higher for BPO with adapalene (2·5%) or clindamycin (2·7%) than BPO (1·6%) or adapalene alone (1·0%). Overall confidence in the evidence was low. Conclusions Adapalene in combination with BPO may be the most effective treatment for acne but with a slightly higher incidence of withdrawal than monotherapy. Inconsistent reporting of trial results precluded firmer conclusions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Medicine
Additional Information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0007-0963
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 October 2021
Date of Acceptance: 21 March 2021
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2021 13:30

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