An evaluation of dapsone gel 5% in the treatment of acne vulgaris

Amanda Pickert, Sharon Raimer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background: Oral dapsone has been available for over 60 years. Its first clinical use was discovered in 1945, when it was found to be efficacious in inhibiting the progression of leprosy. The combined antibacterial and anti-inflammatory pharmacologic activities of dapsone have made it a widely investigated drug, particularly for use in refractory and unusual dermatologic conditions. However, the possibility of significant hematological side effects, even at low doses, has limited its use. Currently, oral dapsone has FDA approval for the treatment of leprosy and dermatitis herpetiformis. The potential of oral dapsone to treat acne vulgaris is well established, but the risks of serious side effects have made it an undesirable drug for use in the relatively healthy acne population. Recently, a topical formulation of dapsone (Aczone™, Allergan, Inc., Irvine, CA, USA) has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of acne vulgaris. Objective/methods: The aims of this study were to review the published literature on dapsone pharmacology and pharmacokinetics, and to evaluate the gel's efficacy and safety in treating acne vulgaris, and finally to provide personal insight into its future as a topical agent for acne vulgaris. Results/conclusions: Clinical studies indicate dapsone gel 5% is effective in treating mild to moderately severe acne. It is well tolerated, with pharmacokinetic evidence indicating topical dosing in comparison to oral administration significantly reduces systemic concentrations of the drug, and therefore risk of serious side effects. Data suggests that dapsone gel 5% has the potential to become an established topical drug for the treatment of acne vulgaris. However, studies comparing the clinical effectiveness of the dapsone gel 5% to other available topical antiacne drugs are needed as are studies accessing its usefulness and safety when combined with other acne pharmaceuticals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1515-1521
Number of pages7
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 2009


  • Acne
  • Efficacy of topical dapsone
  • Safety of topical dapsone
  • Topical dapsone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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