Protopic ointment (generic name: Tacrolimus) is manufactured and marketed by Astellas Pharmaceuticals (formerly known as Fujisawa Healthcare). In December 2000, the FDA approved Protopic ointment to treat eczema. Protopic ointment, similar to Elidel cream (manufactured by Novartis), is a popular eczema treating drug with millions of written prescriptions in the United States.

Protopic Ointment Uses

Tacrolimus (Protopic) is an ointment applied directly on the affected skin. Tacrolimus also comes in pill or injection form and is called Prograf. Prograf is approved to prevent kidney and liver transplant rejection.

The FDA approved Protopic ointment to treat eczema. Many doctors prescribe Protopic ointment for off-label uses, including:

  • Psoriasis: a chronic skin disease that accelerates skin cells life cycles, resulting in itchy, dry, and painful red patches

  • Seborrhea Dermatitis: a common skin disorder that causes scaly, itchy, and red skin on the scalp (can also affect the face, upper chest, and back)

What is Eczema?

Eczema is an allergic reaction that causes skin inflammation. Typically, eczema refers to atopic dermatitis, which means the person has a life-long tendency of developing this allergic reaction. Eczema may improve over time but many patients can suffer from chronic and recurrent eczema symptoms. Although Eczema’s exact cause is unknown, scientists found the allergic reaction antibody IgE present in patients with eczema.

Eczema symptoms affect adults and children and include:

  • Intense itching (especially at night)
  • Red or brown colored patches
  • Small raised bumps (which may leak fluid and crust over)
  • Raw, sensitive skin (usually from scratching)
  • Thickened, cracked, or scaly skin

How does Protopic Ointment treat Eczema?

Protopic ointment contains pimecrolimus, which decreases skin inflammation. Protopic ointment belongs to the medicine group called skin-selective inflammatory cytokine inhibitor. Cytokines, which are produced by white blood cells, irritate skin by causing it to become red, swollen, and itchy. Protopic ointment stops white blood cells from producing cytokines, thereby reducing skin inflammation. Protopic ointment provides only short term relief from eczema symptoms.

Protopic Ointment Side Effects

Animal studies linked Protopic ointment use to severe and fatal cancers including skin cancer and lymphoma. Other rare Protopic ointment side effects include:

  • Worsened skin symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin infections (redness, swelling, and itching)
  • Swollen glands
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches)

Side Effects Linked to Protopic Ointment

The Protopic attorneys at Bernstein Liebhard LLP can help you if you’ve developed any serious side effect from using the Protipic ointment. Contact us today to discuss your case in a free and confidential consultation. One of our experienced Protopic attorneys will be happy to answer your questions and inform you of your legal rights and options. 

Published November 17, 2011 by