Conference Coverage

Nonhormonal drug for menopause symptoms passes phase 3 test



No serious side effects identified

There were no serious drug-related treatment-emergent adverse events in any treatment group. One patient in the placebo arm (< 1%), two patients in the 30-mg fezolinetant arm (1.2%), and five patients in the 45-mg arm (3%) discontinued therapy for an adverse event considered to be treatment related.

“The most common side effect associated with fezolinetant was headache. There were no other side effects that led patients to pull out of the study,” Dr. Neal-Perry reported at the meeting, which was held in Atlanta and virtually.

According to Dr. Neal-Perry the vasomotor symptoms relative to menopause, which occur in almost all women, are moderate to severe in an estimated 35%-45%. Some groups, such as those with an elevated body mass index and African Americans, appear to be at even greater risk. Study enrollment was specifically designed to include these high-risk groups, but the subgroup efficacy data have not yet been analyzed.

Other drugs with a similar mechanism of action have not been brought forward because of concern about elevated liver enzymes, but Dr. Neal-Perry said that this does not appear to be an issue for fezolinetant, which was designed with greater specificity for the NK3 target than previous treatments.

If fezolinetant is approved, Dr. Neal-Perry expects this agent to fulfill an important unmet need because of the limitations of other nonhormonal solutions for control of menopause symptoms.

HT alternatives limited

For control of many menopause symptoms, particularly hot flashes, hormone therapy (HT) is the most efficacious, but Richard J. Santen, MD, emeritus professor and an endocrinologist at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, agreed there is a need for alternatives.

In addition to those who have contraindications for HT, Dr. Santen said in an interview that this option is not acceptable to others “for a variety of reasons.” The problem is that the alternatives are limited.

“The SSRI agents and gabapentin are alternative nonhormonal agents, but they have side effects and are not as effective,” he said. Hot flashes “can be a major disruptor of quality of life,” so he is intrigued with the positive results achieved with fezolinetant.

“A new drug such as reported at the Endocrine Society meeting would be an important new addition to the armamentarium,” he said.

Dr. Neal-Perry reports no conflicts of interest.


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