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New menopause drug gets FDA approval

by MATTHEW PERRONE / AP Health Writer
| May 24, 2023 1:00 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators on Friday approved a new type of drug for women dealing with uncomfortable hot flashes caused by menopause.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the once-a-day pill from Astellas Pharma to treat moderate-to-severe symptoms, which can include sweating, flushing and chills.

Astellas' drug, Veozah, uses a new approach, targeting brain connections that help control body temperature. The FDA said the medication will provide "an additional safe and effective treatment option for women," in a statement.

More than 80% of women experience hot flashes during menopause, the FDA noted, as the body gradually produces lower levels of reproductive hormones between the ages of 45 and 55.

The most common treatment consists of hormonal pills aimed at boosting levels of estrogen and progestin. But the treatment isn't appropriate for some women, including those with a history of stroke, blood clots, heart attack and other health conditions. Large studies have found that the hormones can increase the chances of those problems reoccurring, although the risks vary based on a number of individual factors.

The new pill is not a hormone. It carries an FDA warning about potential liver damage. Women will need to be screened for liver damage or infection before getting a prescription, then get a blood test every three months for nine months to monitor for safety problems, according to the FDA label.

Astellas said the drug will cost $550 for a one-month supply. That's the price before insurance coverage and other discounts typically negotiated by insurers and pharmacy benefit managers.

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.