Ritlecitinib Improves Outcomes in Alopecia Areata Regardless of Baseline Hair Loss Profile

Ritlecitinib Improves Outcomes in Alopecia Areata Regardless of Baseline Hair Loss Profile

According to research findings published in Dermatologic Therapy, administering ritlecitinib at doses of either 50 mg or 30 mg once daily for 24 weeks significantly enhanced outcomes in patients with alopecia areata.

The FDA has granted approval for ritlecitinib (Litfulo; Pfizer Inc), an oral medication taken once daily, for individuals aged 12 years and above who suffer from severe alopecia areata. This approval marks ritlecitinib, at the 50 mg dosage, as the first and sole FDA-approved treatment for adolescents with severe alopecia areata.


What is LITFULO™(ritlecitinib), Pfizer’s alopecia drug?

LITFULO™ (ritlecitinib) is Pfizer's medication aimed at stimulating hair regrowth in individuals afflicted with alopecia areata and other forms of hair loss stemming from autoimmune disorders.

In 2018, the FDA granted Breakthrough Therapy designation to this Pfizer drug intended for the treatment of severe alopecia areata, recognizing its potential significance in addressing alopecia.

Ritlecitinib operates as a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, administered once daily in the form of an oral tablet. JAK inhibitors function by obstructing signals responsible for immune responses, effectively tempering the immune system to prevent unwarranted autoimmune reactions.

Alopecia areata arises when the body's immune system erroneously attacks its own hair follicles, constituting an autoimmune condition. Related conditions include alopecia totalis (AT) and alopecia universalis (AU), which result in extensive scalp hair loss and complete loss of hair across both scalp and body, respectively.

Ritlecitinib disrupts signals from molecules and immune cells implicated in alopecia areata symptoms. Its highly selective nature as a JAK inhibitor enables it to target specific enzymes more precisely than other drugs in this category. This characteristic is believed to potentially reduce the occurrence of adverse effects compared to other JAK inhibitors, rendering it a much-anticipated treatment option.

Pfizer alopecia medication trial results

Recent clinical trials have demonstrated significant improvements in hair regrowth for individuals with alopecia who were administered ritlecitinib. The latest trial assessed outcomes in 719 participants, each experiencing at least 50% hair loss due to alopecia areata, alopecia totalis, or alopecia universalis.

Following a 6-month regimen of ritlecitinib, a statistically noteworthy proportion of patients exhibited hair regrowth to a minimum of 80% scalp coverage, in stark contrast to only a few patients receiving the placebo.

Coupled with encouraging findings from prior trials, these positive outcomes suggest that Pfizer's alopecia medication may soon emerge as a novel treatment for alopecia areata.

Side effects of ritlecitinib

Ritlecitinib's side effects encompass various known reactions, as with all medications. A previous study revealed that two-thirds of trial patients experienced at least one adverse effect, albeit predominantly mild in nature.

The side effects associated with ritlecitinib encompass:

• Headaches • Diarrhea • Nasopharyngitis (common cold) • Upper respiratory tract infections • Acne • Nausea • Shingles • Folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles) • Oral ulcers • Reduction in red blood cell counts

Additionally, one instance of pulmonary embolism was recorded, and two patients developed breast cancer during the trial, although the correlation with the alopecia medication remains unclear.

Other JAK inhibitors have been linked to instances of cancer and cardiac issues. The FDA has previously issued warnings to medication users regarding these potentially severe side effects.

Serious infections

Serious infections may arise as ritlecitinib can compromise the immune system's ability to combat infections. Consequently, individuals afflicted with an infection are advised to temporarily discontinue ritlecitinib until the infection resolves.

Who can take ritlecitinib?

Ritlecitinib is suitable for adults and adolescents aged between 12-17 years old who are seeking treatment for severe alopecia areata. The recommended dosage of ritlecitinib is 50mg, to be taken orally once daily.

What does this mean for alopecia patients?

For individuals with alopecia, this represents a significant advancement as there are currently limited approved treatments available for autoimmune-related hair loss conditions such as alopecia areata. Traditional approaches like hair transplants are often not recommended. Hence, the active research and clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies offer promising prospects for patients with these conditions.

Furthermore, in 2022, the FDA also granted approval for Olumiant, marking it as the first systemic treatment for alopecia areata. This underscores the concerted efforts of pharmaceutical organizations in prioritizing the development of treatments for such conditions. With ongoing discoveries, testing, and approvals, alopecia patients can anticipate a broader array of treatment options in the future.

How to tackle alopecia areata?

If you're facing alopecia areata or any unexplained hair loss, it's crucial to seek assistance from a qualified trichologist. Through hair loss blood tests and comprehensive examinations of your hair and scalp, they can identify the underlying cause of your condition. Subsequently, they will tailor a suitable treatment plan based on your specific diagnosis.