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Topical retapamulin was effective for impetigo


Topical retapamulin was effective in clearing impetigo lesions according to a presentation given at the recent Maui Derm conference.

Topical retapamulin was effective in clearing impetigo lesions in two studies, according to a poster presented at the Maui Derm conference, held January 25-29, 2021.1

“Impetigo is a common skin infection mainly in children, primarily cased by Staphylococcus aureus,” wrote Theodore Rosen, MD, of the department of dermatology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas.

Retapamulin (Altabax; GlaxoSmithKline) 1% is an FDA-approved topical antibacterial agent to treat impetigo in those older than 9 months of age.

The first study, a randomized, double-blind, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial, included 139 subjects treated with retapamulin and 71 treated with placebo. Each treatment was applied two times a day for 5 days.

Clinical success, defined as complete clearance of lesions, was shown in 89.5% of patients treated with retapamulin according to protocol compared with 53.2% of those treated with placebo (P < .0001). In patients who took at least one dose of the study medication, 85.6% of the study group and 52.1% of the placebo group experienced clinical success (P < .0001).

A second study, a phase 3 randomized, observer-blinded, noninferiority comparative study, compared retapamulin 1% and fusidic acid 2%.

The 346 subjects in the retapamulin group applied the ointment twice daily for five days, while those in the fusidic acid group applied it three times daily for 7 days.

Clinical success, defined as a total absence of treated lesions compared with baseline, was shown in 99.1% of those in the retapamulin group who followed study protocol compared with 94% of those in the fusidic acid group (P = .003).

In those who took at least one dose of the medication, 94.8% of the retapamulin group and 90.1% of the fusidic acid group saw clinical success at the end of treatment; the difference was not statistically significant.

“These studies show that topical retapamulin is an effective and safe treatment for primary impetigo,” the authors wrote.


1. Two studies demonstrate effectiveness of retapamulin to treat impetigo. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.healio.com/news/dermatology/20210127/two-studies-demonstrate-effectiveness-of-retapamulin-to-treat-impetigo

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