Vitiligo causes a gradual depigmentation of the skin. This autoimmune disease concerns 0.5% to 1% of the world’s population, according to Inserm. Concretely, patients produce fewer and fewer melanocytes and no longer synthesize melanin sufficiently.
For the first time, a repigmenting treatment – to be applied twice a day – has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (the United States drug administration). It might be authorized in France from 2023 and reimbursed by Health Insurance in the months that follow, indicates Pr Thierry Passeron, head of the dermatology department at the Nice University Hospital and member of the international group of experts behind this treatment (source 1).
Total facial re-pigmentation in one year
The treatment in question, called Opzelura (or ruxolitinib), comes in the form of a cream. Its effectiveness has been proven on more than 600 patients – adults and children over the age of 12. “Clinical trials, conducted in particular at the University Hospital of Nice, have shown total repigmentation of the face in about a third of patients after one year of treatment“, specifies Professor Passeron. And to insist:
With application twice a day, for six to twenty-four months, repigmentation is complete.
Very well tolerated, the drug does not require a blood test before its implementation, he adds. Moreover, if the vitiligo persists, it is “possible to redo the treatment”.
“This drug is not a revolution”
Despite his enthusiasm, the dermatologist insists: “This drug is not a revolution: unfortunately not all people with vitiligo benefit from it. And above all, certain areas, notably the hands and feet, are less well repigmented than others. It is at the level of the face that the effects are the most important”.
Other studies will therefore be carried out in the course of 2023 to further improve the results, in combination, for example, with Opzelura cream. UV rays or a melanocyte transplant (skin cells) on the affected areas.