Repurposing Ophthalmologic Timolol for Dermatologic Use: Caveats and Historical Review of Adverse Events

Daniel J. Yoon, Ramanjot Kaur, Anthony Gallegos, Kaitlyn West, Hsinya Yang, Saul Schaefer, Catherine Tchanque-Fossuo, Sara E. Dahle, R. Rivkah Isseroff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Ophthalmic timolol solution is increasingly being repurposed as a topical therapeutic for a variety of dermatologic diseases, including pyogenic granulomas, infantile hemangiomas, and chronic wounds. There are no published guidelines or protocols for use in these indications in adults, and the dermatologic community may not be familiar with adverse events that have been extensively documented relating to its ophthalmic use. We review the evidence available relating to adverse events to topical timolol use to evaluate its safety in dermatologic applications and to alert clinicians to screening and monitoring that is needed when repurposing this drug for dermatologic use. The majority of serious adverse events associated with ophthalmic timolol were reported in the first 7 years of use, between 1978 and 1985, of which most common were cardiovascular and respiratory events, but also included 32 deaths. The available evidence suggests that ophthalmic timolol safety profiling may have been incomplete prior to widespread use. Recent clinical trials for dermatologic indications have focused on documenting efficacy and have not had rigorous monitoring for potential adverse events. Topical timolol may be safe and effective for the treatment of various dermatologic conditions in patients whose medical histories have been carefully reviewed for evidence of pre-existing cardiac or pulmonary disease and are monitored for potential adverse events. Despite the wide use of timolol in ophthalmologic practice, safe dermatologic repurposing requires recognition of the potential for facilitated systemic absorption though the skin and appreciation of its history of adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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