A “BLOCKBUSTER” drug that stops middle-aged women from being plagued by hot flushes could soon be made available in the UK.
The treatment fezolinetant, which dramatically cuts side effects of menopause, has just been approved for use in the US and could be approved for use in the UK by the end of the year.
As the first non-hormonal menopause drug it could be transformative for the hundreds of thousands of women in the UK who cannot take hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
The drug works by blocking a brain protein called neurokinin 3, that plays a role in regulating body temperature in menopausal women.
In trials, it reduced the frequency of hot flushes by about 60 per cent in women with moderate or severe symptoms in a matter of days, compared with a 45 per cent reduction in those who received a placebo.
Women also said the drug reduced the severity of hot flushes and improved the quality of their sleep.
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The average age for menopause in the UK is 51 – with around two million Brits affected at any one time.
Hot flushes are the most common symptom, with some women suffering up to 20 a day.
They can include sweating, palpitations, and a blushing, and vary in severity.
Experts from Imperial College London said the new therapy could transform hundreds of thousands of women's lives.
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Professor Waljit Dhillo, National Institute for Health Research scientist at the Department of Medicine at Imperial, told The Guardian: “This is going to be a completely blockbuster drug.
"It’s like a switch. Within a day or two the flushes go away. It’s unbelievable how well these drugs work. It’s going to be completely game-changing for a lot of women."
Fezolinetant, made by Japanese firm Astellas Pharma, is now being assessed by the European Medicines Agency.
A decision is expected this year, with the UK likely to follow a few months later.
Around a million Brits are on HRT, which is used to combat unpleasant symptoms of menopause.
But HRT is not suitable for everyone, including those with a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
The medicines are also associated with a small increase in the risk of stroke.
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