From the Editor

Elagolix: A new treatment for pelvic pain caused by endometriosis

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5 options for using elagolix

There are many potential options for using elagolix in the treatment of pelvic pain caused by endometriosis.

Option 1. Prescribe elagolix 200 mg twice daily for 6 months to achieve strong suppression of estradiol and marked improvement in dysmenorrhea, although at the cost of more hot flashes and greater bone loss.

Option 2. Prescribe elagolix 150 mg once daily for up to 24 months to achieve gentle suppression of estradiol and modest improvement in dysmenorrhea with fewer hot flashes and minimal bone loss.

Options 1 and 2 have been studied in high quality clinical trials involving more than 1,500 women and are approved by the FDA.

Option 3. Initiate treatment with elagolix 200 mg twice daily for 3 months, immediately accruing the benefits of strong suppression of estradiol, and then switch to elagolix 150 mg once daily for up to 24 months to achieve continuing pain control with fewer adverse effects. This regimen combines strong initial suppression of estradiol, which will result in marked improvement in dysmenorrhea, along with long-term gentle suppression of estradiol, which is likely to maintain decreased pain symptoms with minimal long-term bone loss and fewer hot flashes.

Option 4. Prescribe an alternating regimen of elagolix 200 mg twice daily on even days of the month (two pills daily is an even number of pills) and one pill daily on odd days of the month (1 pill daily is an odd number of pills). This regimen should produce a mean estradiol concentration between 12 and 41 pg/mL, resulting in moderate rather than strong or gentle suppression of estradiol.

Options 3 and 4 are based on extrapolation using our knowledge about the hormonal treatment of endometriosis and are not regimens approved by the FDA.

Option 5. Prescribe elagolix 200 mg twice daily and initiate add-back therapy with norethindrone acetate 5 mg once daily. Substantial evidence supports the combination of a GnRH analogue that strongly suppresses estradiol production with norethindrone acetate add-back, which helps mitigate the bone loss that occurs with strong suppression of estradiol and reduces the frequency of moderate to severe hot flashes.

Option 5 is based on extrapolation from high-quality studies of leuprolide acetate depot plus norethindrone acetate add-back.8 The combination regimen is approved by the FDA.3

Elagolix availability increases treatment choices for women

Pelvic pain caused by endometriosis is common, affecting approximately 8% of women of reproductive age.9 Endometriosis is a vexing disease because diagnosis is often delayed many years after the onset of symptoms, causing great frustration among patients.10 Some effective hormonal treatment options, including danazol and depot leuprolide, are poorly tolerated by patients because of adverse effects, including weight gain (danazol), hot flashes, and bone loss (depot leuprolide). Combination oral contraceptives used in a continuous or cyclic fashion often result in inadequate improvement in pelvic pain.11 The synthesis of an orally active, small-molecule GnRH antagonist is an innovative advance in endocrine pharmacology. The Elaris Endometriosis clinical trials have demonstrated that elagolix is effective in the treatment of pelvic pain caused by endometriosis.4,5 A great advantage of elagolix is that dosing can be tailored for each patient to achieve reduction in pain while minimizing unwanted adverse effects such as hot flashes and bone loss. In Elaris Endometriosis I, fewer than 10% of women discontinued elagolix due to adverse effects.4 Elagolix is also less expensive than depot leuprolide and nafarelin.

Millions of women in the United States have pelvic pain caused by endometriosis. Obstetrician-gynecologists are the clinicians best trained to care for these women, and patients trust that we will effectively treat their problem.

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