Hair loss from alopecia

NHS patients to benefit as NICE makes landmark alopecia recommendation

Thousands of patients are set to benefit thanks to a landmark recommendation from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for a new treatment for severe alopecia.

Ritlecitinib, marketed as Litfulo by Pfizer, has been approved for the NHS after the manufacturer offered an improved discount.

NICE previously did not recommend the same treatment in September 2023, but with additional information and less cost, NICE has stated ritlecitinib is clinically and cost effective, making it NICE’s first ever recommendation for a treatment of severe alopecia for NHS use.

Clinical trial data indicates the treatment is better for hair regrowth than placebos, and improvements continued for up to two years while taking the medicine.

“…severe alopecia areata can have a significant impact on people's health…”

Ritlecitinib has been specifically recommended for treating extreme cases of alopecia areata for patients aged 12 and above, with as many as 14,000 people expected to benefit.

The treatment, which NICE says should be a 50mg daily pill, works by reducing the enzymes that cause inflammation and hair loss.

Hair loss from alopecia areata is caused by the immune system attacking the follicles, making them dormant.

“Our committee heard how severe alopecia areata can have a significant impact on people's health and quality of life,” says the director of medicines evaluation at NICE, Helen Knight.

“I’m delighted that we are now able to recommend this innovative treatment, the first time a medicine for severe alopecia areata has been recommended by NICE for use in the NHS.

“It is especially pleasing that we have been able to recommend ritlecitinib just 16 weeks after it was granted a licence by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority, demonstrating NICE’s commitment to getting the best care to patients fast.”

Image credit: iStock

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