Around 4,500 women with fibroids in England and Wales will be able to take a new tablet to reduce their symptoms. The treatment lessens the need for invasive surgery and can be taken long term according to the The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which has issued final draft guidance.
Uterine fibroids are a non-cancerous growth that occur in or around the uterus in about one in three 16-50 year olds, usually shrinking after the menopause. Symptoms can include prolonged heavy menstrual bleeding, pelvic pain and pressure, and fertility problems, with limited long-term treatment options available currently.
The treatment – relugolix with estradiol and norethisterone acetate, also called Ryeqo and made by Gedeon Ritcher UK – works by reducing the release of hormones which control oestrogen and progesterone production by the ovaries. While the exact cause of fibroids is unknown, they have been linked to oestrogen.
For treating moderate to severe symptoms, injectable medication is often used before surgery. The new tablet will be available for the treatment of fibroids three months after the final guidance is published, NICE said.
Helen Knight, NICE’s interim director of medicines evaluation, said: “Uterine fibroids can have a profound effect on quality of life. Along with the many debilitating symptoms, there is a real lack of long-term options.
“This treatment has the potential to improve quality of life. As well as effectively reducing symptoms, it can be taken at home and is therefore more convenient than the injectable treatment, given in a hospital setting.
“It can also be used long term, which could mean improved and sustained symptom relief. It is well-tolerated, and it will mean thousands of women can avoid invasive surgery which always carries some risk.”
Maria Caulfield, Minister for Women’s Health, said: “Around 1 in 3 women can suffer from uterine fibroids at some point in their life – the symptoms can have a profound impact on women’s health and lead to infertility if untreated. So this is another ground-breaking step forward to not only improve women’s quality of life and reduce symptoms, but to give them greater choice in the medication available and options for alternative, less invasive treatment.
“I am committed to closing the gender health gap so women can live healthier, happier lives – and later this year will publish the first ever Women’s Health Strategy to address these disparities.”