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Fluticasone (Fluticasone Propionate Topical) - Description and Clinical Pharmacology


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Fluticasone Propionate Lotion, 0.05% contains fluticasone propionate [S-(fluoromethyl) 6α,9-difluoro-11β,17-dihydroxy-16α-methyl-3-oxoandrosta-1,4-diene-17β-carbothioate, 17-propionate], a synthetic fluorinated corticosteroid, for topical dermatologic use. The topical corticosteroids constitute a class of primarily synthetic steroids used as anti-inflammatory and antipruritic agents.

Chemically, fluticasone propionate is C25H31F3O5S. It has the following structural formula:

Fluticasone propionate is a white to off-white powder with a molecular weight of 500.6. It is practically insoluble in water, freely soluble in dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethylformamide, and slightly soluble in methanol and 95% ethanol.

Each gram of Fluticasone Propionate Lotion contains 0.5mg fluticasone propionate in a base of cetostearyl alcohol, isopropyl myristate, propylene glycol, cetomacrogol 1000, dimethicone 350, citric acid, sodium citrate, and purified water, with imidurea, methylparaben, and propylparaben as preservatives.


Like other topical corticosteroids, fluticasone propionate has anti-inflammatory, antipruritic, and vasoconstrictive properties. The mechanism of the anti-inflammatory activity of the topical steroids, in general, is unclear. However, corticosteroids are thought to act by the induction of phospholipase A2 inhibitory proteins, collectively called lipocortins. It is postulated that these proteins control the biosynthesis of potent mediators of inflammation such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes by inhibiting the release of their common precursor, arachidonic acid. Arachidonic acid is released from membrane phospholipids by phospholipase A2.

Although fluticasone propionate has a weak affinity for the progesterone receptor and virtually no affinity for the mineralocorticoid, estrogen or androgen receptors, the clinical relevance as related to safety is unknown. Fluticasone propionate is lipophilic and has strong affinity for the glucocorticoid receptor. The therapeutic potency of glucocorticoids is related to the half-life of the glucocorticoid receptor complex. The half-life of the fluticasone propionate-glucocorticoid receptor complex is approximately 10 hours.


Absorption: The extent of percutaneous absorption of topical corticosteroids is determined by many factors, including the vehicle and the integrity of the epidermal barrier. Occlusive dressing enhances penetration. Topical corticosteroids can be absorbed from normal intact skin. Inflammation and/or other disease processes in the skin increase percutaneous absorption.

Distribution: Following intravenous administration of 1 mg of fluticasone propionate in healthy volunteers, the initial disposition phase for fluticasone propionate was rapid and consistent with its high lipid solubility and tissue binding. The apparent volume of distribution averaged 4.2 L/kg (range, 2.3 to 16.7 L/kg). The percentage of fluticasone propionate bound to human plasma proteins averaged 91%. Fluticasone propionate is weakly and reversibly bound to erythrocytes. Fluticasone propionate is not significantly bound to human transcortin.

Metabolism: No metabolites of fluticasone propionate were detected in an in vitro study of radiolabeled fluticasone propionate incubated in a human skin homogenate. The total blood clearance of systemically absorbed fluticasone propionate averages 1093 mL/min (range, 618 to 1702 mL/min) after a 1-mg intravenous dose, with renal clearance accounting for less than 0.02% of the total.

Orally absorbed fluticasone propionate has demonstrated extensive first-pass metabolism with no unchanged drug detected in the plasma up to 6 hours after dosing. Fluticasone propionate is metabolized in the liver by cytochrome P450 3A4-mediated hydrolysis of the 5-fluoromethyl carbothiolate grouping. This transformation occurs in 1 metabolic step to produce the inactive 17β-carboxylic acid metabolite, the only known metabolite detected in man. This metabolite has approximately 2000 times less affinity than the parent drug for the glucocorticoid receptor of human lung cytosol in vitro and negligible pharmacological activity in animal studies. Other metabolites detected in vitro using cultured human hepatoma cells have not been detected in man.

Excretion: Following an intravenous dose of 1 mg in healthy volunteers, fluticasone propionate showed polyexponential kinetics and had an average terminal half-life of 7.2 hours (range, 3.2 to 11.2 hours).

Special Population (Pediatric): Plasma fluticasone levels were measured in patients 2 years - 6 years of age in an HPA axis suppression study. A total of 13 (62%) of 21 patients tested had measurable fluticasone at the end of 3 - 4 weeks of treatment. The mean ± SD fluticasone plasma values for patients aged under 3 years was 47.7 ± 31.7 pg/mL and 175.5 ± 243.6 pg/mL. Three patients had fluticasone levels over 300 pg/mL, with one of these having a level of 819.81 pg/mL. No data was obtained for patients < 2 years of age.


Fluticasone Propionate Lotion applied once daily was superior to vehicle in the treatment of atopic dermatitis in two studies. The two studies enrolled 438 patients with atopic dermatitis aged 3 months and older, of which 169 patients were selected as having clinically significant* signs of erythema, infiltration/papulation and erosion/oozing/crusting at baseline. Table 1 presents the percentage of patients who completely cleared of erythema, infiltration/papulation and erosion/oozing/crusting at Week 4 out of those patients with clinically significant baseline signs.

Table 1: Complete Clearance Rate Fluticasone Propionate Lotion Vehicle

*Clinically significant was defined as having moderate or severe involvement for at least two of the three signs (erythema, infiltration/papulation, or erosion/oozing/crusting) in at least 2 body regions. Patients who had moderate to severe disease in a single body region were excluded from the analysis.

Fluticasone Propionate Lotion    Vehicle
Study 1    9/45 (20%)    0/37 (0%)
Study 2    7/44 (16%)    1/43 (2%)

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