'Game-changing' drug to treat hot flushes approved for UK use

'Blockbuster' new drug to help combat menopausal hot flushes approved in UK

A new drug combatting menopausal hot flushes has been approved for use in the UK, potentially benefitting hundreds of thousands of women.

Veoza will be available from January onwards through private prescriptions only.

The NHS will not offer the treatment until the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) completes a review of it.

Hot flushes are the most common symptom of menopause, and involve sudden feelings of hot or cold in the face and upper body. They are caused by an imbalance in the brain's temperature control centre.

The new drug, also known as fezolinetant, works by blocking a protein in the brain responsible for regulating body temperature.

Marci English, Head of Biopharma Development at drug producer Astellas, said: "We are proud to have developed an innovative treatment option for a condition that has lacked scientific advancement for too long.”

The new drug is non-hormonal, unlike hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has so far been the most effective treatment for hot flushes.

Veoza could provide an alternative for those unable to undergo HRT, which can be unsuitable for those with a history of breast cancer and blood clots, according to the NHS.

Menopause campaigner Diane Danzebrink said: “Hot flushes and night sweats are common menopause symptoms which can be debilitating, affecting personal health and wellbeing, family lives and careers.

"It’s welcome news that doctors will have an alternative option to consider during a consultation, according to individual suitability.

"The decision is particularly important for those who’ve felt overlooked in the past in terms of treatment options, or those who prefer not to use HRT.”

Menopause refers to the time where someone's periods stop after a natural drop in hormones, and usually affects those between the ages of 45 and 55.

Hot flushes affect up to 80% of those going through menopause, according to the NHS, disrupting sleep and sometimes bringing extreme sweating and dizziness.

Professor Waljit Dhillo, an endocrinologist at Imperial College London who led a 2017 trial that led to the drug's development, told The Guardian that Veoza will be a 'blockbuster drug'.

He said: "It's like a switch. Within a day or two the flushes go away. It's unbelievable how well these drugs work. It's going to be completely game changing for a lot of women."

Veoza is already available in America, after the Food and Drug Administration approved its use in May.

Julian Beach, the interim executive director of healthcare quality and access at the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said the organisation was 'pleased' to have authorised it for the UK.

“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,” he said.