Factors Affecting Prescription of Ultra-High Potency Topical Corticosteroids in Skin Disease: An Analysis of US National Practice Data

November 2005 | Volume 4 | Issue 6 | Original Article | 699 | Copyright © November 2005

Rajesh Balkrishnan PhD, Fabian T. Camacho MS, Daniel J. Pearce MD, Amit S. Kulkarni MS, Lori Spencer PhD, Alan B. Fleischer Jr. MD, Steven R. Feldman MD PhD

Of the topical preparations available, the ultra-high potency corticosteroids have an important role in treating psoriasis. However, the use of these agents in many other conditions and patient populations may not be appropriate. This study examines the prescribing patterns of Class I topical corticosteroids in patients with skin disease by analyzing data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (1990-2000). Of the nearly 718 million visits for skin disease, Class I topical corticosteroids were prescribed in nearly 3% of all skin disease-related visits, with prescription rates being highest in psoriasis (22%). The study found greater prescription rates of Class I topical steroids by dermatologists compared to non-dermatologists [Odds Ratio (OR) = 4.39 (95% CI: 2.15, 8.99)]. However, there were also a large number of questionable prescriptions for other conditions, which could be construed as misuse of these medications. Despite limitations and the potential dubious use seen here, Class I topical corticosteroid use is relatively commonplace. Education efforts and novel preparations of Class I agents will help to ensure the best possible care for patients suffering from significant skin diseases like psoriasis.