Women who have endometriosis, a disorder of the uterus, often experience pain that can be completely debilitating.
However, a newly approved drug by pharmaceutical company AbbVie will soon help sufferers find some relief.
The drug, called elagolix and to be sold under the name Orilissa, was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Expected to arrive at pharmacies as soon as August, the FDA-approved oral treatment is the first in more than a decade to relieve moderate to severe pain triggered by endometriosis.
Hugh Taylor, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Yale Medical School who led the key elagolix trials, says the drug could be transformative, and that he is excited to start prescribing it to his patients.
What Is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is one of the most common gynecological problems affecting one out of 10 women of reproductive age. As countless testimonies have shown, the pain it causes can render a person unable to function normally. Why? That's because women with this condition are growing excess tissue in their abdomen that they can't remove.
A woman's uterine lining thickens every month and sheds during her period if she's not pregnant. For people who have endometriosis, this tissue thickens and bleeds but it happens outside of the uterus including on the fallopian tubes, and sometimes, even in places where they are least expected to be, such as the lungs.
Because of this, the tissue has no natural way of exiting the body, causing it to build up over time and cause extreme pain. In some cases, it might even cause a woman to become infertile.
Effectiveness Of Elagolix
Currently, there is no known cure for endometriosis, so the best things doctors can do is advise their patients' proper management of symptoms. Birth control and over-the-counter painkillers are commonly prescribed, but they don't work for all women.
Some who have severe cases can choose to have the tissues removed via surgery. Sometimes, the uterus is removed entirely, but this only happens in extreme cases.
It is important to note that endometriosis is a disease driven by estrogen, which is why elagolix works by lowering estrogen levels. Drug trials showed that the medicine was effective in terms of finding relief from endometriosis-induced pain.
Elagolix is not going to cure the disease, but just alleviate the pain it triggers. It is also pretty expensive at $850 a month for women who have no insurance. Even still, it is a far better and less costly solution than having surgery performed, and it might be a miracle pill for women who just cannot bear the pain.