FDA approves alopecia drug that restores hair growth in most patients in trial

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a new treatment for alopecia areata, a condition that causes hair loss and affects more than 300,000 people a year in the U.S.

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The drug, called baricitinib, is the first oral tablet designed to treat the autoimmune disorder.

“Access to safe and effective treatment options is crucial for the significant number of Americans affected by severe alopecia,” FDA official Kendall Marcus said in a statement.

The disorder became a high-profile topic recently when actor Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars ceremony after the comedian made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who suffers from alopecia.

According to the FDA, almost 40% of those on the higher dose of the drug for 36 weeks during a clinical trial grew back 80% of their scalp hair, compared to around 23% of the lower dose group, and 5% of the placebo group.

Around 45% of people in the higher dose group also saw “significant” eyebrow and eyelash regrowth, according to the FDA.