Menopausal drug that ‘turns off’ hot flashes in just days could be available by year’s end after being approved in the US as a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of women unable to take hormone replacement therapy
- The first non-hormonal drug for menopause, called fezolinetant, acts on the brain
- Women reported a reduction in hot flash severity and better sleep quality
By the end of the year, an anti-menopausal drug could be available that “turns off” hot flashes in just days.
The ‘groundbreaking’ drug, called fezolinetant, acts directly on the brain and could be a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of women unable to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Earlier this month, the US approved fezolinetant, the first non-hormonal menopause drug.
Its makers describe it as a therapy “based on our understanding of the biology behind hot flashes.”
The drug works by blocking a brain protein called neurokinin 3, which plays a role in regulating body temperature in menopausal women.
An anti-menopausal drug that ‘turns off’ hot flashes in just days could be available by the end of the year (file image)
The ‘groundbreaking’ drug, called fezolinetant, could be a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of women unable to take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (file image)
A large study published this year found that taking the pill once a day for 12 weeks reduced the frequency of hot flashes by about 60 percent in women with moderate or severe symptoms, compared with a 45 percent decrease in those taking a placebo. got.
Women also reported a reduction in hot flash severity and better sleep quality.
“This is going to be a complete blockbuster drug,” said Professor Waljit Dhillo, an endocrinologist at Imperial College London.
“It’s like a switch. Within a day or two the hot flashes disappear – it’s amazing how well these drugs work.
“It will completely change for many women.”
Fezolinetant, made by the Japanese company Astellas Pharma, is now under review by the European Medicines Agency.
A decision is expected this year, followed by the UK several months later.
The drug does not affect estrogen levels – which drop sharply during menopause – so will not address the symptoms of fatigue and mood swings the way HRT does.
But HRT isn’t for everyone, including people with a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
‘If you can’t take HRT, there aren’t many really effective options,’ says Professor Annice Mukherjee, a consultant endocrinologist at Coventry University. “Women need options.”