Clinical Review

2018 Update on abnormal uterine bleeding

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Ulipristal may be useful for managing AUB associated with uterine leiomyomas

Simon JA, Catherino W, Segars JH, et al. Ulipristal acetate for treatment of symptomatic uterine leiomyomas: a randomized controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. 2018;131(3):431-439.

Managing uterine leiomyomas is a common issue for gynecologists, as up to 70% of white women and more than 80% of black women of reproductive age in the United States have leiomyomas.

Ulipristal acetate is an orally administered selective progesterone-receptor modulator that decreases bleeding and reduces leiomyoma size. Although trials conducted in Europe found ulipristal to be superior to placebo and noninferior to leuprolide acetate in controlling bleeding and reducing leiomyoma size, those initial trials were conducted in a predominantly white population.

Study assessed efficacy and safety

Simon and colleagues recently conducted a randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled trial designed to assess the safety and efficacy of ulipristal in a more diverse population, such as patients in the United States. The 148 participants included in the study were randomly assigned on a 1:1:1 basis to once-daily oral ulipristal 5 mg, ulipristal 10 mg, or placebo for 12 weeks, with a 12-week drug-free follow-up.

Amenorrhea achieved and quality of life improved

The investigators found that ulipristal in 5-mg and 10-mg doses was well tolerated and superior to placebo in both the rate of and the time to amenorrhea (the coprimary end points) in women with symptomatic leiomyomas. In women treated with ulipristal 5 mg, amenorrhea was achieved in 25 of 53 (47.2%; 97.5% CI, 31.6-63.2), and of those treated with the 10-mg dose, 28 of 48 (58.3%; 97.5% CI, 41.2-74.1) achieved amenorrhea (P<.001 for both groups), compared with 1 of 56 (1.8%; 97.5% CI, 0.0-10.9) in the placebo group.

Consider quality and cost in AUB treatment
AUB continues to be a significant issue for many women. As women's health care providers, it is important that we deliver care with high value (Quality ÷ Cost). Therefore, consider these takeaway points:
  • The LNG-IUS consistently delivers high value by affecting both sides of this equation. We should use it more.
  • Although we do not yet know what ulipristal acetate will cost in the United States, effective medical treatments usually affect both sides of the Quality ÷ Cost equation, and new medications on the horizon are worth knowing about.
  • Last, efficiency with office-based hysteroscopy is also an opportunity to increase value by improving biopsy and visualization quality.

Ulipristal treatment also was shown to improve health-related quality of life, including physical and social activities. No patient discontinued ulipristal because of lack of efficacy, and 1 patient in the placebo group stopped taking the drug because of an adverse event. Estradiol levels were maintained at midfollicular levels during ulipristal treatment, and endometrial biopsies did not show any atypical or malignant changes. These results are consistent with those of the studies conducted in Europe in a predominantly white, nonobese population.

Results of this study help to define a niche for ulipristal when hysterectomy is not an option for women who wish to preserve fertility. Further, although leuprolide is used for preoperative hematologic improvement of anemia, its use results in hypoestrogenic adverse effects.

The findings from this and other studies suggest that ulipristal may be useful for the medical management of AUB associated with uterine leiomyomas, especially for patients desiring uterine- and fertility-sparing treatment. Hopefully, this treatment will be available soon in the United States.

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