Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Safety and tolerability of topical polyhexamethylene biguanide: a randomised clinical trial in healthy adult volunteers


Background and Aims Polyhexamethyl biguanide (PHMB), a widely used topical treatment for Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK), is unlicensed with no formal safety assessment. This study evaluated its safety and tolerability.

Methods A prospective, randomised, double-masked controlled trial in 90 healthy volunteers. Subjects were treated with topical 0.04%, 0.06%, 0.08% PHMB or placebo (vehicle) 12× daily for 7 days, then 6× daily for 7 days. The rates of dose-limiting adverse events (DLAEs) leading to interruption of dosing, mild adverse events (AEs) (not dose limiting) and incidental AEs (unrelated to treatment) were compared. The primary outcome was the difference between treatments for DLAE rates.

Results 5/90 subjects developed DLAE within <1–4 days of starting treatment; 2/5 using PHMB 0.06% and 3/5 PHMB 0.08%. These resolved within 1–15 days. There were no significant differences in DLAE between treatment groups. Mild AEs occurred in 48/90 subjects (including placebo). There was no trend for an increased incidence of any AE with increasing concentrations of PHMB, except for corneal punctate keratopathy with PHMB 0.08%, which fully resolved within 7–14 days.

Conclusion These findings are reassuring for PHMB 0.02% users. They also suggest that higher PHMB concentrations may show acceptable levels of tolerance and toxicity in AK subjects, whose susceptibility to AE may be greater than for the normal eyes in this study. Given the potential benefits of higher PHMB concentrations for treating deep stromal invasion in AK, we think that the use of PHMB 0.08% is justified in treatment trials.

Trial registration number NCT02506257.

  • Clinical Trial
  • Cornea
  • Drugs
  • Infection
  • Treatment Medical

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • At a glance
    Frank Larkin