Effective and tolerable treatment options for patients with dermatomyositis and polymyositis are limited. This retrospective case review describes treatment with adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) gel in five patients who experienced a disease exacerbation and either failed or were unable to tolerate the side effects of previous therapy with steroids, intravenous immunoglobulins, and steroid-sparing drugs.
Patients received ACTH gel subcutaneous injections of 80 U (1 mL) twice weekly (four patients) or once weekly (one patient) over the course of 12 weeks for short-term treatment of symptom exacerbations. Manual muscle testing using the Medical Research Council scale was assessed at baseline and at 3 months.
Improvement was seen in all patients, including improved muscle strength, decreased pain, and resolution of skin involvement. All patients tolerated the treatment well, and no significant side effects occurred.