A new type of non-hormonal menopause treatment has been approved in the UK, for hot flushes and night sweats. The daily pill, Veoza – or fezolinetant – works on the brain's temperature-control centre to alleviate these symptoms. Up to 80% of women going through the menopause experiences them, experts estimate, although not all will want to take medication for it.
By Michelle Roberts, Digital health editor, BBC Spotlight
The drug has not yet been recommended for the NHS to prescribe though. That requires a review by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, expected next year.
Julian Beach, from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said: “Hot flushes and night sweats caused by menopause are common and can have a significant impact on a woman's daily life.
No medicine would be approved unless it met our expected standards of safety, quality and effectiveness and we continue to keep the safety of all medicines under close review.”
The menopause – and the years leading up to it – affect women in different ways. Falling levels of oestrogen affect the brain, periods, skin, muscles and emotions.
ME Association comment
“Unlike many health journalists I am very reluctant to use the term ‘breakthrough' when it comes to new medical treatments. However, this new non-hormonal treatment for menopausal hot flushes and night sweats does appear to be a significant development if the media coverage it is receiving is correct.
“The drug acts on a brain protein called neurokinin B – which helps to regulate body temperature. At this stage we have no information about how it might affect the problems with temperature control that commonly occur in ME/CFS, or how it is likely to affect women with ME/CFS who have these sort of menopausal symptoms that have an overlap with ME/CFS symptomatology.
“NICE will now need to carry out a thorough review of both safety (side-effects can include abdominal pain and diarrhoea) and efficacy before it could become available on the NHS. This will take several months. So it seems unlikely that NICE will make a decision till the spring or summer of 2024.
“The drug is quite expensive – around £400 per month – and this will also be taken into account. At present, I am not aware whether it might be available through on of the private clinics that deal with the menopause and HRT.”
Dr Charles Shepherd,
Trustee and Hon. Medical Adviser to the ME Association.