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Brett King, MD, PhD: Following Up the Ruxolitinib Cream Approval for Vitiligo

Why patience is key following the major FDA decision earlier this year.

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ruxolitinib cream as the first agent designated to treat patients with vitiligo.

Supported by a phase 3 clinical program portfolio that included data showing capability to repigment skin with the twice-daily JAK inhibitor, ruxolitinib cream was quickly regarded as a landmark breakthrough in dermatologic care—and representative of a promising drug class in investigation still, to boot.

Now, experts would like to take a minute more to learn about this breakthrough.

In the first segment of an interview with HCPLive, Brett King, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, discussed a recent HCPLive State of Science Summit he chaired on the subject of vitiligo management. Ruxolitinib cream was a headline discussion for King and his supporting panel—which included primary phase 3 investigator David Rosmarin, MD—though conversation deviated from standard excitement.

King reinforced to HCPLive that it’s critical to take time to interpret ruxolitinib cream, its benefit to patients, and its contribution toward better understanding vitiligo as a chronic disease.

“I think we all need to take a step back at timers like this, when we have a huge breakthrough, to measure what we know and what we don’t know,” King said. “One of the really great things about these sorts of advancements is that we learn a lot about the disease.”

King described the ruxolitinib approval as an opportunity for day-to-day clinicians and prescribers to reconsider their level of knowledge into vitiligo management, and to consider what the latest data on the JAK inhibitor should tell them about the disease course itself—warts and all.

“One of the really key things that have come from the ruxolitinib clinical trials is that it takes time to treat this disease,” King said. “You have to tell people, “This is going to take months.” We can erase red skin. We can erase plaques of psoriasis, literally in weeks. We cannot repigment the skin in weeks. It takes months.”

Nonetheless, King echoed the overwhelmingly positive sentiments shared by his peers on ruxolitinib cream’s status as a breakthrough in vitiligo care.

“There’s tremendous reward at the end,” he said. “We need to bring all this together to optimize benefits and treatment success for our patients.”