“It is finally understood that alopecia areata is a disease and we finally have the first drug in the world approved for this disease, which is effective, well tolerated and available in many hospital centers throughout Italy for adult patients with severe forms of alopecia areata Being able to give an answer to these patients today, with an effective therapy and with a complete contribution from the national health system, is a huge victory for us and for our patients”. This was stated by Bianca Maria Pieraccini, director of the Dermatology Complex Operational Unit of the University of Bologna, speaking today at the press conference ‘Atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata, two pathologies, one drug. Green light to reimbursement’, organized by Eli Lilly in Milan.
During the meeting, experts and patients discussed the importance of having available, reimbursed by the National Health Service, an oral Janus kinase (Jak) inhibitor, baricitinib, which is also indicated for atopic dermatitis, but which is the first treatment for alopecia areata. This skin pathology “affects approximately one person in a thousand and makes no distinction between age, nationality and gender – explains Pieraccini – It is an autoimmune disease which involves an inflammatory attack against the hair follicles and, therefore, can affect the hair, hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. In most cases it affects the scalp, with the rapid appearance of one or more patches, completely hairless, within a few days”.
The impact on quality of life is important. “The patient no longer recognizes – underlines the specialist – as he suffers the shock of seeing tufts of hair falling out and white patches without hair on his scalp. Furthermore, 20-30% of patients present the severe and chronic forms, which involve the total loss of hair and, often, of all body hair. The absence of eyelashes causes sweat to enter the eyes”, with much annoyance and discomfort also on a psychological level. “Facial expression changes – adds the expert – and hair loss affects patient safety”. In children, then, alopecia areata can cause “bullying. In fact, young patients are often victims of their peers who, not understanding that the absence of hair is caused by an illness, exclude them. Children affected by alopecia areata often do not they want to play sports anymore, they don’t take their hats off and they don’t want to go to school.”