On Monday, June 13, the US Medicines Agency (FDA) authorized a drug against the acute form of alopecia, a disease that causes hair loss or body hair to fall out and affects more than 300,000 people each year in the United States.
Baricitinib is the first oral tablet to combat this condition, andAlopecia areataThe immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes temporary or permanent hair loss or hair loss in certain areas of the body, which can lead to emotional distress. The disease recently gained notoriety in the United States when public figures such as actress Jada Pinkett Smith or Democrat-elect Ayanna Pressley revealed that she had it.
“It is critical that the large number of Americans with severe form of alopecia areata have access to safe and effective treatment options.”Kendall Marcus, an official with the Food and Drug Administration, said in a statement. Baricitinib, which is made by the US drug company Eli Lilly and marketed as “Olumiant,” belongs to a class of drugs that prevent inflammation.
The authorization of this treatment by the US Food and Drug Administration follows two clinical trials involving a total of 1,200 adults with severe forms of alopecia areata. For each trial, participants were divided into three groups: one-third received a placebo, one-third received a daily dose of 2 mg, and one-third received a daily dose of 4 mg. After 36 weeks, nearly 40% of patients who took the highest dose had 80% hair growth, compared to about 23% of people who took only the low dose and 5% of people who took the placebo. About 45% of people who received 4 mg also saw their eyelashes and eyebrows grow back significantly.
The most common side effects are upper respiratory infections, headache, acne, high cholesterol, and an increased presence of an enzyme called creatine kinase. Other treatments have been tested but none have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Baricitinib is already licensed to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and its license has been extended to patients with a severe form of Covid-19.