The Swiss healthcare firm Novartis has received marketing approval from 13 European countries for its new eczema cream, Elidel.
The non-steroid cream is one of the first new eczema treatments in a half a century.
In a news release on Monday, Novartis said that Elidel could be used for the short-term treatment of symptoms of the itching skin condition and for intermittent long-term treatment and prevention in patients two years old and over.
"It brings a much-needed, steroid free, first-line treatment for this chronic condition that affects 20 per cent of Western people, most of them children," said Thomas Ebling, Chief Executive of Novartis Pharma.
The Basel-based company said that all 13 countries - Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom and Denmark - were expected to issue a marketing authorisation later this year.
The countries gave the go-ahead following clinical trials involving more than 2,000 patients ranging from three months to adult age.
Thomas Luger, Professor of Dermatology at the University of Munster in Germany said that doctors and patients would welcome a cream which did not have the typical skin thinning side effects associated with steroid-based treatments.
"Many patients, and the parents of young children with eczema, are afraid of using corticosateroids, so I am sure they will look forward to having a steroid-free option."
He added that these qualities made Elidel suitable for use on the face and delicate skin areas.
Novartis will apply for marketing approval for Elidel for the rest of Europe later this year.
The treatment has already been launched in the USA and approved in several South American countries as well as New Zealand and Kuwait.
13 European countries have approved new eczema cream, Elidel
Elidel is one of the first new eczema treatments for 50 years
20 per cent of people affected by eczema in West
Trials involved 2,000 people from 3 months to adult age
Elidel is steroid free
The cream is already on sale in the USA
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