- The FDA approved a new drug ritlecitinib, sold under the brand name, Litfulo, to treat severe alopecia areata. It will be available in the coming weeks.
- This is the first drug that is approved to be safe for alopecia patients ages 12 and older.
- Litfulo works by blocking the inflammatory signals that cause hair loss.
The FDA has now approved a new drug to treat hair loss caused by alopecia.
On June 23, the FDA announced approval for ritlecitinib, sold under the brand name Litfulo, a drug used to treat severe alopecia areata. The medicine has been approved for people 12 years and up.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that results in hair loss. This disease affects as many as 6.7 million people in the U.S.
That drug works by targeting the JAK system pathway, which is part of the immune system associated with the development of alopecia.
One issue with this treatment is that it was only for adults.
Now researchers have continued to examine other treatments and recently discovered the effectiveness of the drug Litfulo.
Litfulo will be available for consumers “in the coming weeks,” Pfizer reported in a news release. And the cost for patients will depend on individual health care plans.
“Alopecia areata is a type of hair loss that is caused by a malfunctioning immune system that leads to attacking the follicles on the scalp, and other areas of the body, and disrupts the hair growth cycle,” William Gaunitz, FWTS, certified trichologist and founder of Advanced Trichology explained.
This type of hair loss can be isolated to small spots, usually circles on the scalp or facial hair, but can extend to spreading to the entire head, and then to the remainder of the body, Gaunitz added.
Experts explain that enzymes can signal to immune cells to generate proteins called cytokines and other chemical messengers called growth factors.
“When cytokines and growth factors are produced in abundance, they can cause chronic inflammation in autoimmune diseases such as alopecia areata,” Dr. Adrienne Haughton, Director of Medical and Cosmetic Services at Stony Brook Medicine stated.
This drug blocks the inflammatory signals that cause hair loss. It specifically targets the JAK and TEC pathways in order to help moderate inflammatory signals.
“Litfulo (Ritlecitnib) specifically works by inhibiting JAK kinase 3 proteins,” Haughton stated. “This impacts the ability of cells to send inflammatory signals to cells.”
Experts explained what sets this drug apart is that it can be used in children as young as 12.
Nearly 20% or about 1 in 5 people with alopecia areata are diagnosed with the condition before the age of 18.
“Ritlecitinib is a JAK3 inhibitor and was just recently approved to be safe for adolescence after a series of clinical studies including the last study, which included 718 participants with 50% or more full scalp hair loss,” said Gaunitz.
“This new drug changes the landscape of alopecia areata treatment for adolescents in the United States for the first time ever,” Gaunitz explained. “Now someone who is experiencing severe alopecia areata or alopecia totalis as young as 12 can see the dramatic effect of treatment for their autoimmune condition.”
A new drug ritlecitinib, sold under the brand name, Litfulo was recently approved by the FDA to treat severe alopecia areata. It will be available in the coming weeks.
This is the first drug for alopecia patients that is approved to be safe for people ages 12 and older.
Litfulo works by blocking the inflammatory signals that cause hair loss.