Background: Although gold has been reported to be useful in treating pemphigus vulgaris, its use has waned in recent years because of concerns regarding efficacy and toxicity. Objective: To review 26 patients with pemphigus who were treated with intramuscular gold over a 10-year period. Results: Gold was effective in 62% of patients as a primary treatment for pemphigus or as a steroid-sparing agent. An average of 3 months of therapy was required before the daily prednisone dosage could be halved. Four patients were free of disease and stopped receiving all therapy at the conclusion of the study. Toxic effects due to gold therapy developed in 42% of patients and all adverse effects resolved with its cessation. Conclusions: While toxic effects limit the use of gold in many patients with pemphigus, it may be effective in treating a large percentage of patients who otherwise are unable to reduce their steroid requirement. Because of its delayed onset of action, patients treated with gold usually require systemic steroids when therapy is initiated. Controlled, prospective trials are needed to further evaluate the efficacy of gold and its potential steroid-sparing effects.
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