The first effective treatment for severe alopecia areata in adults and adolescents is available in Spain.

Imagine losing all the hair on your head and even the rest of your body almost overnight. The emotional impact will be high. If you are also told that it is an autoimmune disease that is incurable and the reason is not clear, impotence will be greater. This is what they live for patients with alopecia areata. The second most common type of alopecia among the population after androgenic or regular baldness.

The good news is that these patients now have new, more effective and safer drugs to treat their pathology. The latest innovation is now available in Spain from May 1st and, as a new product, it can be used not only by adults, but also by teenagers aged 12 years and older. A critical stage of life from an emotional point of view, at which until now they have not had many treatment options.

Alopecia areata, which affects around 8,000 people every day in Spain, is a condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles at the roots of the hair, causing hair loss.

There is no patient profile as it affects both men and women and can occur at any age. “The youngest patient I treated in consultation was six months old,” said Dr. Raul de Lucas, head of the department of pediatric dermatology at the University Hospital of La Paz (Madrid), during the presentation of the new Pfizer drug.

Litfulo, whose active ingredient is ritlecitinib, comes in 50-milligram capsules and is indicated for severe alopecia areata and requires a prescription and is only available in hospitals. It has a unique mechanism of action that reduces the activity of parts of the immune system involved in the inflammatory response leading to alopecia areata.

This drug is available after demonstrating its effectiveness in clinical trial ALLEGRO phase 2b/3, in which six Spanish hospitals took part. 50% of participants responded well to treatment and regained up to 80% of their scalp hair between 2-3 and 9 months of treatment. An additional 25% of patients experienced more modest improvements.

For patients, sometimes any improvement, no matter how small, is a success.“Says Conchi Botillo, patient and president of the Madrid Alopecia Association, who calls for greater visibility of this pathology and for the acceleration of processes so that the patient’s access to a specialist and treatment are not delayed. “It is very important to understand that behind every strand of hair that falls out there is a flow of emotions that deserve recognition and support,” he notes.

This type of alopecia appears in 80% of cases before age 40 and in 20% before age 18. The earlier it appears, the worse the prognosis. “As for children and adolescents, they have to face the onset of the disease when they have not yet reached adulthood. All this means is that they live with hair loss in a stage marked by constant changes.

Therefore, the availability of this new treatment is so important for minor patients, as they will be able to restore lost hair, improving their self-esteem and quality of life,” comments Dr. Raoul de Lucas, who believes that in some select cases and when used compassionately, the drug can be used even children under 12 years old.

“The very obvious consequences of this pathology are detrimental to the quality of life of patients, which is why clinical advances in this area are so important as they serve to provide options that allow us to improve the approach to the pathology,” says Dr. doctor. Sergio Wangó, dermatologist and director of the alopecia department at the Ramón y Cajal University Hospital (Madrid). The expert assured that thanks to research advances, drugs for alopecia areata are becoming more effective and safe for the patient.

In its turn, Jose ChavezPfizer Spain’s medical director stressed that the arrival of this treatment “is an important milestone for adolescents with this pathology, as it addresses a hitherto unmet need by offering a therapeutic alternative.”

Alopecia areata can cause hair loss on the scalp, facial area (eyebrows, eyelashes, nose hair and beard) and other parts of the body. In addition, patients may experience other symptoms that affect their daily life, such as a runny nose and frequent sneezing, eye irritation, sensitivity to temperature changes, sunburn, or brittle nails.

To all these physical symptoms are added all the emotional ones, which have a great impact on the quality of life of patients. Various studies highlight that people with alopecia areata are 30-38% more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety, and among teenagers, 48% are ashamed of hair loss, 59% say they felt like they were talking. about him or her, and 52% admitted that the condition had forced them to limit their activities.

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