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Alopecia Patients Find Hope with New Medication

July 20, 2023

By Terri Russell

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Hedy Schuckert says about two years ago she started losing her hair.

“It started in the back here,” Hedy says as she points to the back of her head. “You could cover it up. Then it started going to the sides, and the last part was right here on the top and back.”

Diagnosed with Alopecia Areata, an autoimmune disease, she received shots in her scalp designed to bring down the inflammation.

The results were negligible, she says. But at one visit, her dermatologist said she was waiting for FDA approval of a drug that could make all the difference for Hedy.

“Within the first few days of taking it, I noticed a big change,” says Hedy.

The drug is called Olumiant. It was first introduced in 2018 for Rheumatoid Arthritis.

But soon researchers discovered it was also helping Alopecia patients with hair growth.

“Definitely more than half the people get some sort of response and some people gained all their hair back in the studies,” says Dr. Cindy Lamerson MD, with the Nevada Center for Dermatology. “So, you don’t know how an individual is going to play out until you try the medication on them.”

Researchers don’t know exactly how Olumiant works. It’s suspected it disrupts the immune response which causes Alopecia.

Dr. Lamerson says this is the first new drug for Alopecia patients who until now have had few options. She says for an otherwise healthy patient with Alopecia, Olumiant is something to consider. The question is does the patient take this drug the rest of his or her life? Dr. Lamerson says no one knows yet.

We do know the drug can be prescribed for patients 18 years and older.

View the article on KOLO News 8

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