Baricitinib: Helping Patients with Hair Loss, Rheumatoid Arthritis

Baricitinib: Helping Patients with Hair Loss, Rheumatoid Arthritis

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the drug baricitinib (Olumiant) for the treatment of severe alopecia areata (AA), and studies have found that hair regrowth begins about 8 to 12 weeks after starting baricitinib and continues to improve.

Olumiant® (O-loo-mē-ant) is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor used to treat:

Alopecia Areata:

adults with severe alopecia areata

Discover a once-daily pill for adults with severe alopecia areata

You could regrow your hair. Olumiant showed significant hair regrowth in some adults, resulting in 80% scalp coverage at 36 weeks.

Rheumatoid Arthritis:

adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis after treatment with 1 or more medicines called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers have been used, and did not work well enough or could not be tolerated.

The real pain of rheumatoid arthritis is seeing others do for you what you used to do for them. Olumiant can help give some people a better sense of control over their RA. And more control may allow you to do more for yourself and your loved ones.

Olumiant is a once-daily pill to treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who didn't find relief from biologic medicines called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, such as Humira® (adalimumab), Enbrel® (etanercept), and Remicade® (infliximab).

How does baricitinib work?

Hair loss in alopecia areata involves an attack on hair follicles by the immune system, disrupting the hair growth cycle. Signaling molecules called cytokines cause this attack by utilizing pathways that utilize members of the Janus kinase (JAK) family of protein messengers in cells. Small molecules called JAK inhibitors can block the activity of immune signaling pathways involved in the attack on hair follicles in AA. Baricitinib is a JAK inhibitor. By blocking JAK signaling, fewer cytokines are produced, resulting in less inflammation, allowing hair to regrow.

How is baricitinib taken?

Baricitinib is an oral medication that is taken once daily. For most patients, the recommended dose is 2 mg per day, but some patients may need to take 4 mg per day, including those with more severe scalp hair loss. Baricitinib is available in 4 mg and 2 mg tablets and should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

How effective is baricitinib for alopecia areata?

Two Phase 3 clinical trials evaluated the efficacy and safety of baricitinib in 1,200 adults with severe AA. Both studies assessed hair regrowth after 36 weeks. Overall, a significantly greater proportion of study participants with severe AA who took baricitinib achieved 80% or greater scalp coverage compared to placebo.

What are the most common side effects of baricitinib?

In the alopecia areata clinical trials, the most common side effects reported (≥1%) were upper respiratory tract infection (cold or sinus infection), headache, acne, increased cholesterol levels (hyperlipidemia), increased muscle enzyme levels, urinary tract infection, increased liver enzyme levels, inflammation of hair follicles (folliculitis), tiredness, lower respiratory tract infection, nausea, genital yeast infection, low red blood cell count (anemia), low white blood cell count (neutropenia), stomach (abdominal) pain, shingles (herpes zoster), and weight gain.

How long will I need to take baricitinib?

Take baricitinib as prescribed by your doctor. Baricitinib is a treatment for alopecia areata, not a cure. It helps treat the symptoms of the disease. If you stop taking the medication, symptoms may return.

How much does Baricitinib cost? Is Baricitinib covered by insurance?

The cost of Baricitinib depends largely on your insurance plan. Individual insurance plans vary in coverage and copayments. Therefore, you may pay a different price than someone else for the same medication, depending on your insurance.

Eli Lilly has launched a program called Olumiant Together to help patients work with their doctors, insurance companies, and specialty pharmacies to get Baricitinib.