Alevicyn: A Better Approach in Treating Eczema
Published Wednesday, August 26, 2015 by Fred Zucker
Parents tending to a child with atopic dermatitis (AD), also known as eczema, can be a non-stop job.  It’s a bigger problem than many may realize.  The National Eczema Association says that up to 30 million people deal with the condition characterized by sensitive, intensely itchy skin that is usually diagnosed when a person is a baby or young child.  With eczema, the skin doesn’t properly do its job to protect the body from environmental irritants.  Instead, it allows the irritants in, sending the immune system into attack mode and resulting in a rash. The lesions cause cracks in the skin, which then exposes the person to infections.  For some kids, eczema can be a nightmare, unable to even sleep properly because they’re too occupied scratching until their skin bleeds excessively.

There is still no cure for atopic dermatitis, but there are a number of products that help control the symptoms, including immunosuppressive drugs and topical corticosteroids, although many come with “black box” warnings about possible side effects.  For example, in 2006 the FDA approved updated labeling of tacrolimus, a drug marketed by Astellas Pharma (OTC: ALPMY) as Protopic, as a second-line treatment for eczema with a possible cancer risk.  In 2001, Protopic was the first non-steroid treatment approved for AD.  Pimecrolimus, a related drug marketed in the U.S. by Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE: VRX) as Elidel, carries a similar warning.  Neither product is approved for use in children under age two and are only meant to be used after first-line treatments are ineffective.

Topical corticosteroids, such as Taro Pharma’s (NYSE: TARO) mometasone furoate (Elocon), are a popular choice, but again side effects can be a concern if not used specifically as directed with respect to frequency, amount and duration of use.  Side effects are often amplified in children and the elderly.  Well-recognized possible side effects of corticosteroids include thinning of the skin (skin atrophy) and permanent stretch marks (striae).  Applying high potency corticosteroids to large areas on the body can lead to systemic absorption and things like adrenal suppression, a condition where the body’s ability to produce cortisol – a steroid hormone released in response to stress and low blood-glucose concentration – is reduced.

It’s not to say that under proper direction, eczema cannot be properly and safely managed, but there is still an area of high unmet medical need for improved and even safer treatments.  Also, because of fear of side effects, whether warranted or not, parents don’t get kids the relief that they desperately need, according to Dr. Amy Paller, an advisor to Parents magazine and chair of dermatology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

Better immune modulators are being evaluated, including Regeneron (NASDAQ: REGN) providing promising data on a study of dupilumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting the proteins interleukin-4 (IL-4) and interleukin-13 (IL-13) to treat AD.  Last November, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to dupilumab for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe AD who are not adequately controlled with topical prescription therapy and/or for whom these treatments are not appropriate.

Oculus Innovative Sciences (NASDAQ: OCLS), through its specialty pharmaceutical unit Intraderm Pharmaceuticals, now offers its Alevicyn franchise of products for treating AD.  These products include Alevicyn Dermal Spray, Alevicyn Antipruritic Gel and Alevicyn Antipruritic SG, all three of which are built upon Oculus’ Microcyn technology.  Microcyn technology is centered on hypochlorous acid, an important, but inherently unstable acid in the body that is a mast cell stabilizer with antibacterial properties.  Through a patented process, the hypochlorous acid in Microcyn is stabilized, allowing therapeutic products to be formulated for topical use.

Cumulatively, these recently launched, FDA-approved products deliver pain and inflammation management while supporting tissue healing.  Proven as a treatment for AD, wound care and more, the Microcyn-based spray and gels bring another very important quality of having no side effects or contraindications.  The lack of side effects is attributable to the fact that the hypochlorous acid that preserves the Microcyn solution is similar to the natural hypochlorous acid produced by the human body.

Another interesting point about the Alevicyn family is that testing has shown the products to have no oral toxicity and to be non-genotoxic, meaning that systemic risk is eliminated.  Further, there has been no evidence of the products causing ocular irritation, a definite benefit not only in the short term but also in the long term, as frequent and prolonged application of a topical corticosteroid to the eyelids can cause glaucoma and even cataracts.

We recently spoke on the phone with Dr. Firas Hougeir, a board certified Dermatologist in the Atlanta area. The author of several publications, Dr. Hougeir has presented his work worldwide and is considered an opinion leader in his field. He has lectured on various skin diseases and holds multiple national and international awards in recognition for his work.

Dr. Hougeir stated, “With diagnoses rates of eczema in children continuing to escalate, the Alevicyn products have been a welcome addition to our clinic. We have been prescribing Alevicyn products as adjuncts to steroid therapy since their inception for AD and other dermatoses.  In my experience, the anti-itch, cleansing and hydrating properties of Alevicyn products ultimately result in reducing the use of steroids to control the dermatoses. Importantly, Alevicyn is a safe product with no major adverse events.”

It’s a tough road and often times a long haul for people and families coping with eczema.  Thanks to medical advancements and new products coming to market, though, there is hope for a less itchy future.

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