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Alopecia Drug That Restores Hair Growth in Many Patients Gets Approved In The US

Jayden Collins

| Last updated 

Alopecia Drug That Restores Hair Growth in Many Patients Gets Approved In The US

The first-ever treatment for the hair loss autoimmune disease known as alopecia has been greenlit in the United States.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a daily pill called baricitinib from drug manufacturer Eli Lily as a treatment option for patients. 

Alopecia often comes suddenly for people who lose their hair quickly and often in clumps, and it can happen anywhere on their body, according to the American Academy of Dermatology

The FDA says the disease impacts 300,000 people in the United States, but now they finally have a treatment.

Credit: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy
Credit: Zoonar GmbH / Alamy

Barictinib is part of a drug group called JAK inhibitors, which have been used for the treatment of cancer and inflammatory diseases in the past. 

This particular drug has already been approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases, however, FDA approval for alopecia means patients won’t have to drop the hefty $2,500 (AU$3,500) a month on the drug. 

Barictinib works by preventing the body’s immune systems from attacking hair follicles and allowing the regrowth of hair. 

According to The New York Times, Pfizer and Concert Pharmaceuticals are also close to manufacturing a drug that will be subject to FDA approval. 

The Eli Lilly drug was studied in two trials, with the results published in the New England Journal of Medicine

The study found that out of 1,200 patients who had been diagnosed with severe alopecia areata, nearly 40 per cent of those who took the drug had complete hair regrowth in 36 weeks.

Nearly half of the patients had their back after a year of taking the drug. 

Dr Brett King, a dermatology professor from Yale University, led the trial and will also be leading the trials sponsored by Pfizer and Concert Pharmaceuticals.

He believes further trials and analysis will see the success rate increase, where some patients might react better to one company’s drug than another’s. 

Alopecia recently gained attention across the world after comedian Chris Rock made a joke at the Oscars at Jada Pinkett Smith’s expense, who suffers from the disease.

Rock copped an infamous slap from her husband, Will Smith. 

During a 2018 episode of Red Table Talk, Jada recalled how scared she felt when she first started losing her hair.

"It was terrifying when it first started," Pinkett Smith said.

"I was in the shower one day and had just handfuls of hair in my hands and I was just like, oh my god, am I going bald?"

In a video posted on Instagram last December, she also revealed how it happened 'just all of a sudden one day', but that she was determined to find peace with the condition.

Featured Image Credit: Brett King/Yale School of Medicine

Topics: Science, Health

Jayden Collins
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