- Last week, European drug regulators approved a daily anti-hair loss pill.
- The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is evaluating the drug
Adults and teenagers with alopecia areata, a serious hair loss disease, could soon be offered an innovative medication that can trigger new growth in just six months.
Last week, European medicines regulators approved ritlecitinib, and it is currently being evaluated by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the NHS’s spending watchdog.
Alopecia areata is one of the most common causes of hair loss and usually begins in childhood or early adulthood. It is caused by the body’s immune system attacking the hair follicles and is characterized by bald patches.
But ritlecitinib has been found to reverse the condition in one in five patients.
There are approximately 100,000 people suffering from alopecia areata in the UK, and experts believe it may be caused by genetics.
Jada Pinkett Smith, pictured, suffers from alopecia areata, a common hair loss condition that affects 100,000 Britons.
NHS watchdogs are considering whether to authorize a daily pill to counter alopecia
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith suffers from this condition, which garnered worldwide attention at the Oscars in April last year when presenter Chris Rock made a joke about it and she was slapped on stage by her husband, actor Will Smith.
Taken as a daily pill, ritlecitinib is part of a family of medications known as janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, which work by weakening the immune system.
Results from a large study published earlier this year showed that 13 percent of patients achieved 90 percent or more scalp hair coverage after 24 weeks of taking the drug, compared to 1, 5 percent of those who took a placebo. Nearly half of those treated with ritlecitinib reported “moderate” to “great” improvement in hair loss.
But there was no significant growth after just 12 weeks, meaning patients would have to commit to longer-term treatment. Some side effects were also reported, including diarrhea, acne, upper respiratory tract infections, skin problems, and dizziness.