VIENNA (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – A medical-grade topical honey product proved safe and effective for the treatment of rosacea in a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial, Brigitte Dreno, MD, reported at the annual congress of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

The product, known as Honevo, is a cream consisting of 90% New Zealand kanuka honey and 10% glycerine. It is applied twice daily as a face mask. Honevo is designed to wash off easily and is less sticky than honey.

The clinical trial, conducted in New Zealand, included 138 adults with rosacea who were randomized to 8 weeks of twice-daily application of the topical honey or cetomacragol, a nonionic, paraffin-based cream, as a control.

The primary outcome in the trial was at least a 2-point improvement from baseline on the 7-point Investigator Global Assessment of Rosacea Severity Score (IGA-RSS) as assessed by blinded investigators. This outcome, which reflects a clinical improvement from severe to moderate or from moderate to mild, was achieved in 34% of the Honevo group, compared with 17% of controls. Significant improvement in the honey group was seen after 2 weeks.

Rosacea resolved in 13% of the Honevo group and in 3% of controls, based on a week 8 IGA-RSS of zero, noted Dr. Dreno, professor and chair of the department of dermatology at the University of Nantes (France).

The investigators, from the Medical Research Institute of New Zealand and the University of Otago in Wellington, observed that the study outcomes look at least as good as the results of placebo-controlled studies of topical metronidazole or azelaic cream. They plan to conduct randomized, head-to-head comparative trials of those prescription drugs versus Honevo, which is an OTC product.

The mechanism of action of kanuka honey in treating rosacea is believed to involve its previously reported antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects, according to the investigators (BMJ Open. 2015 Jun 24;5[6]:e007651. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-007651).

The researchers noted that many rosacea patients aren’t interested in long-term antibiotic therapy. They want a natural product that doesn’t contribute to the global antibiotic resistance problem and is available OTC. And Honevo is one of the few natural or complementary medicine therapies backed by data from a rigorous clinical trial, in this case one registered in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12614000004662).

Dr. Dreno wasn’t involved in the study but included it in a talk in which she examined the strengths and weaknesses of current rosacea therapies. She is waiting for a confirmatory study before she incorporates Honevo in her own treatment algorithm. She said that she also would like to see studies examining whether combining the topical honey product with prescription drugs for rosacea provides synergistic efficacy.

HoneyLab, which funded the clinical trial and markets Honevo, ships the product to customers worldwide from its New Zealand headquarters.


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