For many people with endometriosis, the symptoms associated with the condition can impact significant areas of their lives. From painful bowel movements and urination to painful periods or pain during intercourse, it is a condition that can be debilitating. Now, as ABC News reported, a new treatment for endometriosis pain just got approved by the FDA and the way it works is really fascinating.
Endometriosis is a disorder in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of someone's uterus (known as the endometrium) grows outside of the uterus, as explained by the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic goes on to explain that the condition most commonly involves someone's ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining their pelvis. Endometrial tissue rarely spreads beyond pelvic organs.
To some, endometriosis might not sound like a serious issue. It's just extra tissue, after all. But, as the Mayo Clinic breaks down, displaced endometrial tissue will behave as it normally would. In order words, it will thicken then break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle. Because the tissue is displaced, it has no way to exit someone's body and becomes trapped, which can lead to surrounding tissue becoming irritated.
In the past, treatment usually began with over-the-counter pain relievers, opioid painkillers, and birth control pills. But a new drug, Orilissa, is about to change it all up.
The condition itself is not uncommon. Approximately one in 10 women of reproductive age have endometriosis, according to ABC News. The Endometriosis Foundation of America estimated that the condition affects 200 million women worldwide. The Endometriosis Foundation of America notes that although endometriosis is more common during reproductive years (25 to 35 years old), it can affect people as young as 11 years old.
The symptoms of endometriosis can sometimes be mistaken for general period pain. Which means, as noted by Business Insider, it can sometimes take 10 years to receive an accurate diagnosis. And once that diagnosis is received, the treatment options aren't all that great. Cue Orilissa.
Orilissa is a new pill that works by reducing the production of estrogen, according to ABC News. Although it has caused side effects in some participants during testing, the news outlet reported, ranging from hot flashes and headaches to bone thinning, it has been shown to reduce menstrual pain.
In cooperating with Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc., AbbVIE announced the U.S. FDA's approval of Orilissa on Tuesday. According to RTT News, it is the first and only "oral gonadotropin-releasing hormone antagonist" specifically developed for women with moderate to severe endometriosis pain.
In testing, according to The Chicago Sun Times, "Orilissa reduced menstrual pain in about 45 percent of women given a low dose and 75 percent in those given a high dose."
Some people might be wondering why endometriosis hasn't had adequate treatment plans prior to this. Of course, there's general issues with how the health care system approaches women, including disbelieving them when they report on their own bodies and pain levels.
In addition to socialized factors, it's also important to remember that the healthcare industry is ultimately constructed as a business — hence the word "industry." If there's no market in a condition, it is not going to receive funding, and advancements will not be made.
Now, the market for endometriosis sits at $6.8 billion, according to Business Insider. Orilissa, which is a daily pill, will cost $845 every four weeks without insurance, as reported by ABC News.
It's great that Orilissa has been developed and it will hopefully benefit many people living with this condition.