When a woman gets older, her period will eventually stop — a natural menopausal transition that can leave many women struggling with symptoms for years.
One of the most common symptoms are hot flashes, and there haven't been many treatment options — until now.
On Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new type of drug to treat moderate to severe hot flashes caused by menopause.
Fezolinetant, sold under the brand name Veozah, is a once-a-day oral pill that works by blocking a receptor in the brain's temperature control center. And it's not a hormone, meaning women who cannot take hormone therapies, like those with a history of blood or liver issues, won't be deterred from trying it.
"Hot flashes as a result of menopause can be a serious physical burden on women and impact their quality of life. The introduction of a new molecule to treat moderate to severe menopausal hot flashes will provide an additional safe and effective treatment option for women," said Dr. Janet Maynard, director of the FDA’s Office of Rare Diseases, Pediatrics, Urologic and Reproductive Medicine in the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
The FDA says these periods of sweating and chills lasting several minutes occur in 80% of menopausal women.
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55. It's marked by the body slowly producing less estrogen and progesterone — a transition that usually lasts about seven years. The reduction of hormones during menopause can trigger harsh symptoms, like hot flashes.
"This therapy is based on our understanding of the biology behind hot flashes. I’m excited to know that patients will have the option to choose this nonhormonal treatment," said Dr Genevieve Neal-Perry, chair of the UNC School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Astellas Pharma, which makes Veozah, says its drug could be available in pharmacies within three weeks.
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