Olumiant becomes the first ever medically approved treatment for severe alopecia areata.
After years of research and trials, a major breakthrough was made this month, when baricitinib (branded as Olumiant) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for severe alopecia areata types, making it the first ever medically approved treatment for the condition.
The major breakthrough came off the back of two trials that were conducted on 1,200 alopecia sufferers. The trials showed that Olumiant had some good success in reducing hair fall and re-growing hair in alopecia areata patients.
Although Olumiant is not a cure for alopecia areata, it did show promising results in 2 out of 5 trial participants, with clear signs of hair regrowth on the scalp, body, eyebrows and eye lashes.
The approval of this treatment will help fulfil a significant unmet need for patients with severe alopecia areata. This news will be met with optimism, but caution should also be advised.
What is baricitinib (Olumiant)?
Baricitinib, sold under the brand name Olumiant among others, is a medication originally used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, alopecia areata, and COVID-19. It acts as an inhibitor of janus kinase, blocking the subtypes JAK1 and JAK2.
Baricitinib is not a new treatment, as it has been around for a while, but this will be the first time it is approved as a treatment for alopecia areata, and the first ever medically approved treatment for the hair loss condition.
Be warned, though, because Olumiant is not cheap. Expect to pay in the region of £1,100 (1,300 EUROS, $1,400) for a 28 day supply for either 2 mg dose, or 4 mg dose.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is a disease that happens when the immune system attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. Hair follicles are the structures in skin that form hair. While hair can be lost from any part of the body, alopecia areata usually affects the head and face.
Alopecia areata can be a rapid form of hair loss, with fast progression of shedding and baldness. It can be a temporary form of hair loss for some patients, but it can also be longer lasting for other patients. Treatments for alopecia areata are few and far between.
For more information on alopecia, read the article Alopecia Areata: Everything You Need To Know.
How effective is Olumiant for treating alopecia areata?
As mentioned, Olumiant has shown promising results in patients suffering from severe cases of alopecia areata, but despite that, it should be made clear that its effects were minimal for the majority of trial participants. From early trials, Olumiant has shown to be effective in around 40% of people.
Still, this approval is regarded as a step forward, and it should at least give many long term alopecia areata sufferers some optimism and hope.
What are the side effects of Olumiant?
Like with any medical drug, Olumiant does come with the risk of negative side effects, with some of the most common being; headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, abdominal pain, anemia, muscle damage, shingles, and weight gain.
You should speak to your doctor before taking any medical drugs.
What is the safe alternative to Olumiant for treating alopecia areata?
Despite Olumiant being the only FDA approved treatment for alopecia areata, there are still many people, even with severe alopecia areata, who do not want to take the drug, because they would rather avoid the risk of the potential negative side-effects.
There are a select few products on the market that can help treat Olumiant both safely and effectively. Potent multivitamin hair supplements have shown to help minimise the shedding, and even promote the function of normal hair growth in alopecia areata patients.
Although not designed specifically to treat alopecia areata, some multivitamin hair supplements like HR23+® can slow down the shedding (and even halt the shedding completely), and activate the hair follicles, thus encouraging hair growth.
Results tend to vary from person to person, but if alopecia areata patients are looking for a safer alternative to Olumiant, then HR23+® is certainly something that should be considered.