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Medically reviewed by Dr. Samuel Sarmiento, M.D., MPH on August 3, 2023

Explore this cutting-edge development in vitiligo treatment. Ruxolitinib, a new FDA-approved medication, offers patients a promising tool for repigmentation.

  • Ruxolitinib is the first FDA-approved topical medication specifically for repigmentation in patients with non-segmental vitiligo.
  • In recent clinical trials, over half of the patients using ruxolitinib experienced significant improvement in their condition.
  • Though effective, the cost of ruxolitinib could be a barrier for some patients, as it’s notably more expensive than traditional treatments.

Vitiligo, a skin condition marked by loss of pigment, has long been a challenge to manage. Traditional treatments, such as topical corticosteroids and immune-modulating drugs, have had varying levels of success. However, the recent introduction of ruxolitinib, an FDA-approved medication, brings a new ray of hope, according to a review published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

What Is Ruxolitinib? 

Ruxolitinib is a cream that is applied to the skin. It works by blocking the action of an enzyme that triggers the immune reaction in vitiligo. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave ruxolitinib the green light in July 2022 for use in patients aged 12 years and older with a type of vitiligo known as nonsegmental vitiligo.

Clinical Trials and Results 

Clinical trials of ruxolitinib showed promising results. In two different studies, each lasting 52 weeks, 52% of patients experienced at least a 75% improvement in their scores on a standardized test that measures the severity of facial vitiligo symptoms. 

Also, the side effects that the study participants reported tended to be minor, such as acne where the medicine was applied, some redness, itchiness, and a sore throat. There were no serious reactions, which indicates that ruxolitinib is generally safe to use.

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Costs and Accessibility 

Despite its effectiveness, the cost of ruxolitinib might pose a challenge to some patients, as a 60-gram tube of the 1.5% formulation costs over $2,000, significantly more than traditional treatments such as topical corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors. 

However, financial aid programs are available for eligible patients, potentially reducing the cost to as low as $10 for those with commercial prescription insurance. Patients without coverage who meet certain income eligibility criteria may be able to obtain ruxolitinib free for up to 12 months.


The approval of ruxolitinib for vitiligo treatment marks a milestone in the management of this condition. Its effectiveness, coupled with a good safety profile, makes it a potentially valuable tool for patients seeking repigmentation therapy. 

While cost could be a hurdle, assistance programs are in place to increase accessibility. As with any new medication, further research is required to compare ruxolitinib’s efficacy and side effects with other treatments. Nonetheless, ruxolitinib offers a new glimmer of hope for vitiligo patients.


Grossmann, M. C., Haidari, W., & Feldman, S. R. (2023). A Review on the Use of Topical Ruxolitinib for the Treatment of Vitiligo. J Drugs Dermatol, 22(7), 664-667. https://doi.org/10.36849/jdd.7268