Health Female Adda
1 year ago
A Dose of Your Own New Medicine

Pharmaceutical discoveries happen all the time -- and not just in Pete Doherty's bathroom. But all those cutting-edge drugs you see advertised on TV or in Internet pop-up ads aren't necessarily fantastic news for you. The fact is many of the newest meds out there were created to treat conditions that commonly -- or predominantly -- affect men (Viagra knockoffs, anyone?). That's partly because the fairer sex has historically been excluded from all kinds of drug trials, as researchers believed our fluctuating hormones and ability to get knocked up made us complicated study subjects. But over the past few years, the FDA has taken steps to include women in more clinical trials -- and scientists have been logging some serious lab time to come up with medicines that will make a difference for you. Call it equal-opportunity healing: Here are five new drug advances you should know about.

Best new breakthrough for... Menstrual Migraines

The Rx FROVA (Frovatriptan Succinate)

How it works As if feeling more bloated than a beluga whale during your period weren't bad enough, more than 12 million women in the U.S. experience menstrual migraines. Experts speculate that they're triggered by a dip that the hormone serotonin takes when estrogen levels fluctuate. This causes blood vessels in the brain to dilate, leading to the pounder. Frova is part of a class of pain medications called triptans, which work by restoring serotonin levels to normal.

X Appeal Already FDA-approved to treat migraines, Frova is slated to become the first drug to get the okay for prevention of menstrual migraines. What sets it apart from other triptans (like Imitrex) is its lengthy sustained release: It stays active in your body up to 10 times (or 26 hours) longer than other migraine drugs. That's good news, since menstrual migraines average 72 hours.

Do you need it? Talk to your doctor about Frova if your migraines are more severe just before your period, if they last longer than 24 hours, or if other treatments have failed. If you're taking another medication that influences serotonin, such as the antidepressants Prozac or Effexor, be sure to mention that, because adding a triptan to the mix can cause serotonin levels to soar to levels high enough to cause fever, high blood pressure, and seizures.

Best new breakthrough for...Your Skin

The Rx ORACEA (Doxycycline USP)

How it works Rosacea -- a skin disorder that makes your face inflamed and bumpy -- is often confused with acne, though it's a totally different beast. Once thought to be a bacterial infection, rosacea recently was diagnosed as an inflammatory disease. Oracea, the first oral treatment approved by the FDA specifically for rosacea, is also the first drug to target the inflammation alone.

X Appeal Women are three times more likely to suffer from rosacea than men. And the previous treatment, antibiotics, came with an itchy little side effect in women: yeast infections, brought on when the meds killed the body's good bacteria along with the bad. With Oracea, that's thankfully not an issue.

Do you need it? Oracea's active ingredient is a form of the antibiotic doxycycline that has been specifically formulated to work only as an anti-inflammatory. So if you have rosacea, it's the first pill you can safely use long-term to treat your condition. Not sure whether what you have is rosacea? Visit rosacea.org and see a dermatologist.
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Best new breakthrough for...Constipation

The Rx AMITIZA (Lubiprostone)

How it works Sure, a Sunday afternoon Laffy Taffy binge could give anyone a system-wide backup, but 2 million to 3 million women in the U.S. suffer from chronic constipation that requires something stronger than Ex-Lax. Amitiza empties out your system by activating chloride channels, which secrete fluid into the small intestine. The fluid moves things along, making it easier to go -- and to go more often.

X Appeal Amitiza is also slated for FDA approval to treat constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which affects 20 percent of adults in the U.S. (three-fourths of them women, most in their 20s and 30s). It's the best replacement for Zelnorm: The former leading IBS treatment was yanked from the market recently because of its serious side effects, including heart attacks.

Do you need it? Before trying Amitiza, you and your doc should rule out culprits such as prescription drugs (pain meds like Percocet and antidepressants like Elavil can back you up) or problems with your diet, like not getting enough fiber or fluids.

Best new breakthrough for...The Winter Blues

The Rx WELLBUTRIN XL (Bupropion HCl)

How it works Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is depression that hits between late fall and early spring, when, doctors theorize, the shortened daylight hours can cause brain chemicals to go haywire. Wellbutrin XL, which also has been used to treat nonseasonal depression, helps keep the mood-elevating brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine on a more even keel.

X Appeal It's estimated that 80 percent of SAD sufferers are women, and Wellbutrin XL is the first FDA-approved drug to both treat and prevent the condition. One analysis found that taking it in the fall, before symptoms begin, reduced the risk of depression by 44 percent. And Wellbutrin XL doesn't cause weight gain, as other antidepressants can. Which is a good thing, because let's face it: Going up two jeans sizes between Halloween and Easter could make anyone depressed.

Do you need it? Your first line of defense against SAD actually should be parking yourself in front of a lamp. Light therapy -- exposure to a super-intense 10,000-lux light bulb (the average living room bulb puts out 400 lux) for 15 to 90 minutes several times a week -- can lift your mood without any of the side effects associated with antidepressants, such as increased blood pressure or nausea. But it works for only about half of all patients, so if you haven't responded positively, talk to your doc about other options.
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Best new breakthrough for...Pain

The Rx LYRICA (Pregabalin)

How it works Doctors still don't know exactly what causes fibromyalgia, a chronic-pain condition that affects 3 million to 6 million Americans. One theory is that patients have a brain abnormality that makes them more sensitive to pain. Lyrica helps by blocking pain signals from nerve cells.

X Appeal Up to 90 percent of fibromyalgia patients are women, and as the first FDA-approved treatment, Lyrica has helped put the condition on the map.

Do you need it? Lyrica has side effects, including blurred vision and dry mouth, so it basically comes down to a cost-benefit ratio: If your pain level plummets while on the drug, the side effects may be worth tolerating. Lyrica also doesn't treat other conditions associated with fibromyalgia, like insomnia, IBS, and migraines, so in some cases, you may need to supplement with other medications.

On Our Radar : These three drugs could be the next wave of female-friendly fixes

XP12B
What it treats Super-heavy periods
If approved, this will be the first drug for the nearly 8 million women in the U.S. who suffer from excessive menstrual bleeding (think a third of a cup of blood or more per day, compared with the normal 1 to 2 tablespoons). In 2004 the FDA granted XP12B "fast-track product" status, which expedites approval for drugs that treat conditions for which no medication currently exists. It could be available as soon as 2009.

Trimesta
What it treats Early-stage multiple sclerosis
Many women with MS, which disrupts communication between the brain and the body, have a spontaneous remission during pregnancy. Trimesta contains estriol, a hormone in the placenta that spikes during pregnancy and plummets after delivery. One study of women who weren't pregnant found that MS symptoms decreased 82 percent on average within 3 months of taking it. If it's approved, look for Trimesta in 2012.

Flibanserin
What it treats Decreased sexual desire
When your guy's in the mood and you want to say "bug off," what if you could take a pill and flip your switch to "turned on"? Flibanserin, created by German scientists, may boost desire in women who suffer from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder -- essentially, low libido. Researchers suspect it works by stimulating the brain's pleasure centers. The drug is currently in clinical trials and may be FDA-approved as early as 2009.
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