Systematic (IUPAC) name
6-[3-(1-adamantyl)-4-methoxy-phenyl] naphthalene-2-carboxylic acid
Clinical data
Trade names Differin, Teva, Pimpal, Gallet, Adelene, Adeferin
Licence data US FDA:
  • AU: D
  • US: C (Risk not ruled out)
Legal status
Routes of
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability Very low
Excretion Biliary
CAS Registry Number  Y
ATC code D10
PubChem CID:
DrugBank  Y
ChemSpider  Y
Chemical data
Formula C28H28O3
Molecular mass 412.52 g/mol

Adapalene is a third-generation topical retinoid primarily used in the treatment of mild-moderate acne, and is also used off-label to treat keratosis pilaris as well as other skin conditions.[1] It is effective against acne conditions where comedones are predominant.


  • History 1
  • Mechanism of action 2
  • Available forms 3
  • Pharmacology 4
    • Drug interactions 4.1
    • Pharmacokinetics 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Adapalene is a research product of Galderma Laboratories, France. Adapalene was approved in 1996 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the treatment of acne.

Mechanism of action

Unlike tretinoin, adapalene inhibits keratinocyte differentiation. This inhibition of keratinocyte differentiation and proliferation is responsible for adapalene’s comedolytic effect. It has both exfoliating and anti-inflammatory effects. In an in vivo study, adapalene’s ability to reduce comedo formation was demonstrated by a 50–60% reduction in comedo counts compared with vehicle.

Available forms

Tube of generic adapalene

In the United States, adapalene is available under the brand name Differin in three different preparations: 0.1% cream, 0.1% gel, and 0.3% gel.[2] The 0.1% gel is available as a generic made by Teva.[3][4] It is also available combined with benzoyl peroxide under the brand name Epiduo.[5] In Europe, only the 0.1% cream and 0.1% gel are available. Adapalene is currently marketed by Galderma under the trade names Differin in some countries, and Adaferin in India.[6] It is mostly available in 0.1% w /w gel form.


Drug interactions

Adapalene has been shown to enhance the efficacy of topical clindamycin, although adverse effects are also increased.[7] Application of adapalene gel to the skin 3–5 minutes before application of clindamycin enhances penetration of clindamycin into the skin, which may enhance the overall efficacy of the treatment as compared to clindamycin alone.[8]

Unlike tretinoin (Retin-A), adapalene has also been shown to retain its efficacy when applied at the same time as benzoyl peroxide due to its more stable chemical structure.[9]


Absorption of adapalene through the skin is low. A study with six acne patients treated once daily for five days with two grams of adapalene cream applied to 1000 cm² of skin found no quantifiable amounts, or less than 0.35 ng/mL of the drug, in the patients' blood plasma.[10]


  1. ^ Rolewski S (2003). "Clinical review: topical retinoids". Dermatol Nurs 15 (5): 447–50, 459–65.  
  2. ^ About Differin
  3. ^ "Teva Introduces Adapalene Gel, 0.1%". PharmQD. 4 June 2010. Retrieved 30 Aug 2011. 
  4. ^ Webber, Keith (2 June 2010). "FDA Approval Letter" (PDF). Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Wolf JE, Kaplan D, Kraus SJ; et al. (2003). "Efficacy and tolerability of combined topical treatment of acne vulgaris with adapalene and clindamycin: a multicenter, randomized, investigator-blinded study". J Am Acad Dermatol 49 (3 Suppl): S211–7.  
  8. ^ Jain GK, Ahmed FJ (2007). "Adapalene pretreatment increases follicular penetration of clindamycin: in vitro and in vivo studies". Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 73 (5): 326–9.  
  9. ^ Martin B, Meunier C, Montels D, Watts O (October 1998). "Chemical stability of adapalene and tretinoin when combined with benzoyl peroxide in presence and in absence of visible light and ultraviolet radiation". Br J Dermatol. 139 Suppl 52: 8–11.  
  10. ^ "DIFFERIN® (adapalene) Cream, 0.1% Label" (PDF). FDA. May 25, 2000. Retrieved 4 Oct 2011. 

External links

  • Adapalene General Information, Patient Information, Contraindications and Interactions
  • Epiduo Prescribing Information