Association between regularity in dapsone (DDS) treatment and development of deformity.
The existence of an association between regularity in dapsone intake and the development of deformity was investigated in 5746 leprosy patients under treatment in South India. The incidence of deformity, year by year over a 5-year period, increased significantly with increasing levels of drug collection. The excess incidence in "more regular" patients was significant at all ages and in both sexes in nonlepromatous (N) cases. The same was true in intermediate (N?L) cases except in patients under 15 years of age. The evidence in lepromatous (L) cases was not so consistent. Independent confirmation of the presence of the association was sought through a matched case-control type of analysis with 140 N, 48 N?L, and 81 L cases, matching being undertaken with respect to sex, age, type of leprosy, year of starting treatment, and observation period. This showed that the mean regularity in cases (deformed patients) before the development of deformity was significantly higher than the mean regularity in the corresponding matched controls, the differences being particularly large among the N and N?L types. These findings raise the possibility of a causal link between regular dapsone intake and the development of deformity.