It was discovered that treatment with baricitinib (Olumiant; Eli Lilly and Incyte) produced considerable hair regrowth on the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows of people with severe alopecia areata (AA). According to the findings of the study, which were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), about 75% of participants who were given baricitinib 4 mg saw 90% scalp coverage at the end of the 52-week trial period. This autoimmune condition can be heartbreaking for people who have it, regardless of whether they lose all of the hair on their body, just patches of hair, or whether they lose their eyebrows or eyelashes as well. All age groups are susceptible to contracting the condition. Baricitinib pills has become the first drug in history to be approved for the treatment of alopecia areata in adults in 2022.
What Is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata, which is more commonly referred to as “alopecia,” is a condition in which the immune system destroys hair follicles, resulting in inflammation and hair loss. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), hair will not grow back as long as the immune system continues to fight the follicles where the hair grows from. Alopecia areata is a condition that causes people to lose clumps of hair in small circular regions approximately the size of a quarter. The loss of hair might come on quickly, but other than that, persons who have the condition are often healthy and show no other symptoms. Some individuals will go on to experience hair regeneration, while others will see the development of further bald patches or the merging of smaller areas of hair loss into bigger areas of baldness.
The illness, which was previously largely unknown, has now come into the forefront due to recent media attention. Jada Pinkett Smith, an actor and talk show host, recently admitted that she has alopecia and that she had shaved her head as a result of the condition. Alopecia areata can take on a number of different manifestations. If you have alopecia totalis, you will lose all of the hair on your head, while alopecia universalis will cause you to lose all of the hair from your head, face, and body.
Approval of Baricitinib Pills for Combatting Alopecia
The Food and Medicine Administration (FDA) of the United States gave its approval on June 13 to the drug baricitinib pills (Olumiant) for the treatment of severe alopecia areata (AA), which is an autoimmune illness that causes rapid and sometimes extensive hair loss. The once-daily oral medicine is the first systemic therapy for alopecia areata, which means that it addresses the entire body rather than a specific location, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved it. More than 300,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with alopecia areata each year. This condition, which frequently results in bald spots on the scalp, affects both men and women. Those who have a severe case of alopecia areata may also have loss of eyelashes and eyebrows. For the substantial number of Americans who struggle with severe alopecia, having access to treatment choices that are both safe and effective is absolutely essential.
The approval that was given will help to address a substantial unmet need for people who suffer from severe alopecia areata. According to Lotus Mallbris, MD, vice president of immunology development for Eli Lilly, the company that produces baricitinib, a large number of people who have alopecia areata resort to cosmetic solutions such as wigs, false eyelashes, and eyebrow tattoos because they are dissatisfied with the limited number of treatment options. “People living with alopecia areata confront a substantial number of obstacles because the disease can be perceived in a very negative light.
Things to Note before taking Baricitinib Pills
Before taking or beginning treatment using baricitinib pills, it is important to discuss with your doctor if you are affected by the following:
- You are currently being treated for an infection; you have an illness that won’t go away or keeps coming back; or you believe you have symptoms of an infection.
- Have tuberculosis or have had significant contact with someone who does.
- Been diagnosed with zoster (herpes zoster).
- Currently have or have previously suffered from cancer, hepatitis B or C, or blood clots in the veins of your legs or lungs.
- Currently smoke or have smoked in the past.
- Have a history of cardiovascular disease, including a heart attack, other cardiac problems, or a stroke.
- Suffering from additional health issues, such as kidney or liver illness, low blood cell counts, diabetes, lung disease, HIV, or an impaired immune system
- Experiencing pain in the abdominal region, if you have been diagnosed with inflammation in the large intestine (diverticulitis), or if you have ulcers in your stomach or intestines.
- Recently had a vaccine or you are planning to receive one. It is not safe to administer live vaccines to people who are taking baricitinib pills.
- Pregnant or have the intention of becoming pregnant. However, there is no evidence to suggest that baricitinib pill is harmful to an unborn child.
- While you are taking Olumiant, it is important that you discuss the best approach to feed your infant with your healthcare provider.
- Are taking additional medications, such as prescription or over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or herbal supplements in addition to your current regimen. It is of the utmost importance that you discuss the following with your physician:
- A medication called probenecid
- Any medications that have an effect on your immune system, such as biologic therapies, other JAK inhibitors, or potent immunosuppressants (such as azathioprine or cyclosporine), as these may raise your risk of infection.
- Are under age 18. There is insufficient evidence to determine if baricitinib pill is both safe and effective for use in children.
Most Common Side Effects of Baricitinib Pills
Some patients diagnosed with alopecia areata who use baricitinib pills may develop one or more of the following common side effects:
- Infections of the upper respiratory tract (cold or sinus infections)
- An increase in overall cholesterol levels
- A higher concentration of muscle enzymes
- Infection of the urethra and kidneys
- Elevated levels of liver enzymes in the body
- An inflammation of the hair follicles.
- Infections of the lower respiratory system
- Yeast infection in the genital tract
- A low amount of red blood cells
- A low amount of white blood cells
- Aching in the region of the stomach/abdomen
- A higher overall body mass
How to take Baricitinib Pills
- Make sure to take the baricitinib pills (Olumiant) exactly as directed by your physician.
- Take one Baricitinib pill orally once daily, either with food or on an empty stomach.
- If you are unable to take tablets in their entirety, discuss the issue with your physician.
- If you consume an excessive amount of Baricitinib Pills, you should immediately contact your physician or the local poison control center, or go to the emergency room of the closest hospital.
With this approval, we now have a drug that can be taken once daily and assist patients see significant hair growth, as well as growth in their eyebrows and eyelashes. Before the baricitinib pills was given the green light by the FDA, there were no other medicines that could be used to treat alopecia areata. This approval is a big step forward, not just for those who suffer from alopecia areata but also for the clinicians who have been advocating for them. It allows a greater number of patients to have access to a medicine that, in addition to restoring their hair, can also improve their overall quality of life.
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