never happened,” he says, although he still looks in a mirror sometimes and has a flashback to his hairless self.
How the pill works
So, how exactly does this life-changing pill work?
Olumiant is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that works by interfering with the cellular pathway that triggers inflammation. It was first approved in 2018 to treat rheumatoid arthritis, according to the FDA.
The agency’s approval of the drug from Eli Lilly and Co. is based on two clinical trials that included 1,200 alopecia patients with at least 50% hair loss who took either 2 or 4 milligrams of Olumiant or a placebo every day.
After 36 weeks, rates of patients who achieved at least 80% hair coverage were 17% and 22% for those who took 2 milligrams of Olumiant and 32% and 35% of those who took 4 milligrams of the drug. That compared with 3% and 5% of those who took a placebo, according to the FDA.
Are there any side effects?
Like most health-conscious adults, you’re probably wondering if you can expect any side effects. Here’s what you need to know.
The most common side effects associated with Olumiant included: upper respiratory tract infections, headache, acne, high cholesterol, increase of an enzyme called creatinine phosphokinase, urinary tract infection, liver enzyme elevations, inflammation of hair follicles, fatigue, lower respiratory tract infections, nausea, genital yeast infections, anemia, low number of certain types of white blood cells, abdominal pain, shingles and weight gain.
Olumiant should not be used in combination with other JAK inhibitors or any other potent immunosuppressants, the FDA warned. The drug carries a boxed warning for serious infections, death, cancer, major heart problems and blood clots.
If you are taking this drug, you should be closely monitored for infection during and after treatment and checked for latent and active tuberculosis before treatment, the FDA advises.
With the FDA approval will come insurance coverage for these expensive drugs, which have a list price of nearly $2,500 a month, The New York Times reports. Two other companies, Pfizer and Concert Pharmaceuticals, are close behind Lilly with similar drugs that are already on the market for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases.
For more on alopecia areata, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.