17β-estradiol vaginal tablet versus conjugated equine estrogen vaginal cream to relieve menopausal atrophic vaginitis
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OBJECTIVES: The efficacy and safety of 25-μg 17β-estradiol vaginal tablets (Vagifem) were assessed and compared with 1.25-mg conjugated equine estrogen vaginal cream (Premarin Vaginal Cream) for the relief of menopausal-derived atrophic vaginitis, resulting from estrogen deficiency. DESIGN: In a multicenter, open-label, randomized, parallel-group study, 159 menopausal women were treated for 24 weeks with either vaginal tablets or vaginal cream. Efficacy was evaluated by relief of vaginal symptoms and concentrations of serum estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormone. Safety was monitored by the incidence of adverse events, evaluation of endometrial biopsies, and clinical laboratory results. Patients also assessed the acceptability of the study medications. RESULTS: Composite scores of vaginal symptoms (dryness, soreness, and irritation) demonstrated that both treatments provided equivalent relief of the symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. At weeks 2, 12, and 24, increases in serum estradiol concentrations and suppression of follicle-stimulating hormone were observed in significantly more patients who were using the vaginal cream than in those who were using the vaginal tablets (p < 0.001). Fewer patients who were using the vaginal tablets experienced endometrial proliferation or hyperplasia compared with patients who were using the vaginal cream. Significantly more patients who were using the vaginal tablets rated their medication favorably than did patients who were using the vaginal cream (p ≤ 0.001). Patients who were receiving the vaginal tablets also had a lower incidence of patient withdrawal (10% versus 32%). CONCLUSIONS: Treatment regimens with 25-μg 17β-estradiol vaginal tablets and with 1.25-mg conjugated equine estrogen vaginal cream were equivalent in relieving symptoms of atrophic vaginitis. The vaginal tablets demonstrated a localized effect without appreciable systemic estradiol increases or estrogenic side effects. Vaginal tablet therapy resulted in greater patient acceptance and lower withdrawal rates compared with vaginal cream therapy.