BACKGROUND: Baricitinib, an oral selective Janus kinase (JAK)1/JAK2 inhibitor, is approved in many countries for moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis (AD) in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the efficacy and safety of three doses of baricitinib in combination with low-to-moderate potency topical corticosteroids in paediatric patients with moderate-to-severe AD. METHODS: Patients (aged 2 to < 18 years) were randomized (1 : 1 : 1 : 1) to once-daily baricitinib low dose (1 mg equivalent), medium dose (2 mg equivalent), high dose (4 mg equivalent) or placebo for 16 weeks. The primary endpoint was the proportion of patients achieving a validated Investigator Global Assessment® (vIGA-AD) of 0/1 with a ≥ 2-point improvement at week 16. Key secondary endpoints included the proportions of patients achieving ≥ 75% and ≥ 90% improvement in the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI-75 and EASI-90, respectively), ≥ 75% improvement in the SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD 75), mean change from baseline in EASI score and proportion of patients achieving a 4-point improvement in the Itch Numeric Rating scale (NRS) for patients aged ≥ 10 years. Primary and key secondary efficacy analyses were conducted on the intent-to-treat population and adjusted for multiplicity. Safety analyses included all randomized patients who received ≥ 1 dose of study treatment. RESULTS: A total of 483 patients were randomized (mean age 12 years). The baricitinib 4 mg equivalent achieved a statistically significant (P < 0.05) improvement vs. placebo on all 16-week endpoints (vIGA 0/1 with ≥ 2-point improvement, EASI-75, EASI-90, SCORAD 75, mean change in EASI score and Itch NRS 4-point improvement for patients aged ≥ 10 years). Improvement (P < 0.05, non-multiplicity adjusted) was also observed for baricitinib 4 mg equivalent vs. placebo in the ability to fall asleep and in reduction of topical corticosteroid use. Few patients discontinued due to adverse events (1.6% for placebo and 0.6% for those treated with baricitinib). There were no deaths, venous thromboembolic events, arterial thrombotic events, major adverse cardiovascular events, malignancies, gastrointestinal perforations or opportunistic infections seen. CONCLUSIONS: The results indicate that baricitinib offers a potential therapeutic option with a favourable benefit-risk profile for paediatric patients with moderate-to-severe AD who are candidates for systemic therapies.
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