Indian Journal of Dermatology
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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 223

A comparative study to evaluate the efficacy and cost of rituximab versus dexamethasone cyclophosphamide pulse in patients of pemphigus vulgaris

Dermatology, Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, India

Correspondence Address:
Komal Agarwal
Dermatology, Calcutta National Medical College
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijd.IJD_306_20

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Introduction: Rituximab is slowly getting recognized as a promising steroid-sparing agent in the treatment of moderate to severe cases of pemphigus vulgaris (PV). We evaluated and compared the effectiveness, safety, and cost of therapy of rituximab versus dexamethasone cyclophosphamide pulse (DCP) in Indian patients with PV. Materials and Methods: It is a retrospective data analysis, from the Immunobullous disease clinic in a tertiary centre of eastern India, of management of PV. In our institute we use either rituximab or DCP for the management of moderate to severe cases of PV, depending on that we retrospectively divided the treated cases of PV in two groups. Patients who were treated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) protocol of rituximab were considered to be group 1. Patients who were treated with DCP were included in group 2. Response was assessed by pemphigus area, and activity score (PAAS), Dermatology life quality index (DLQI); photographic documentation, and blood parameters were monitored. Results: Both groups showed significant improvement in PAAS and DLQI, the improvement was faster and well sustained in the rituximab group. In terms of safety and development of new vesicles, rituximab had a better profile with only 1 patient having adverse effects and none with new vesicles as compared to DCP (3 had adverse effects and 2 developed new vesicles). Conclusions: Rituximab offers the advantage of early and prolonged remission, lesser adverse effects, better effectiveness, less risk of relapses, faster improvement of PAAS, and DLQI. Though rituximab is an expensive drug, but on evaluating the cost of whole therapy, it was seen that rituximab infusions are actually cheaper compared to DCP pulse. We suggest, rituximab can be used as the first-line of therapy for pemphigus vulgaris in the Indian context.

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