The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Veozah (fezolinetant), an oral medication for the treatment of moderate to severe vasomotor symptoms, or hot flashes, caused by menopause. Veozah is the first neurokinin 3 (NK3) receptor antagonist approved by the FDA to treat moderate to severe hot flashes from menopause. It works by binding to and blocking the activities of the NK3 receptor, which plays a role in the brain’s regulation of body temperature.
“Hot flashes as a result of menopause can be a serious physical burden on women and impact their quality of life,” said Janet Maynard, M.D., M.H.S., director of the Office of Rare Diseases, Pediatrics, Urologic and Reproductive Medicine, in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The introduction of a new molecule to treat moderate to severe menopausal hot flashes will provide an additional safe and effective treatment option for women.”
Menopause is a normal, natural change in a woman’s life when her period stops, usually occurring between ages 45 and 55. Menopause is often referred to as “the change of life” or “the change.” During menopause a woman’s body slowly produces less of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a menstrual period for 12 consecutive months. Hot flashes occur in around 80% of menopausal women and can include periods of sweating, flushing and chills lasting for several minutes.
Some women who experience hot flashes and have a history of vaginal bleeding, stroke, heart attack, blood clots or liver disease, cannot take hormone therapies. Veozah is not a hormone. It targets the neural activity which causes hot flashes during menopause.
Patients taking Veozah should take one 45 milligram pill orally, once a day, with or without food. The pill should be taken at the same time each day. If a dose is missed, or not taken at the regular time, patients should take it as soon as possible and return to their regular schedule the following day.
The effectiveness of Veozah to treat moderate to severe hot flashes was demonstrated in each of the first 12-week, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind portions of two phase 3 clinical trials. In both trials, after the first 12 weeks, the women on placebo were then re-randomized to Veozah for a 40-week extension study to evaluate safety. Each trial ran a total of 52 weeks. The average age of the trial participants was 54 years old.
The prescribing information for Veozah includes a warning for elevated hepatic transaminase, or liver injury. Before using Veozah, patients should have blood work done to test for liver damage. While on Veozah, routine bloodwork should be performed every three months for the first nine months of using the medication. Patients experiencing symptoms related to liver damage—such as nausea, vomiting, or yellowing of the skin and eyes—should contact a physician. Veozah cannot be used with CYP1A2 inhibitors. Patients with known cirrhosis, severe renal damage or end-stage renal disease should not take Veozah.
The most common side effects of Veozah include abdominal pain, diarrhea, insomnia, back pain, hot flush and elevated hepatic transaminases.
The FDA granted the Veozah application Priority Review designation.
The approval of Veozah was granted to Astellas Pharma US, Inc.