Fertility Drug May Be New Hot Flash Treatment
Far Fewer Hot Flashes in 3 Women Treated With Cetrotide
Sept. 16, 2009 -- Women suffering from severe postmenopausal hot flashes may get relief from the fertility drug Cetrotide, a small study suggests.
The three women in the study had their lives disrupted by frequent, severe hot flashes, says study leader Hans de Boer, MD, PhD, of Rijnstate Hospital in Arnheim, Netherlands.
One developed symptoms after going off hormone therapy. Another was a breast cancer survivor who underwent treatment with an estrogen-blocking drug. The third had her ovaries removed during successful treatment for endometrial cancer.
"They all responded very well to the treatment," de Boer tells WebMD. "The woman who had breast cancer treatment had a very large number of hot flashes and now has only two a day. She has totally changed. She couldn't live her life before, and now she is a very happy person."
The drug used to treat the women was Cetrotide, a fertility drug. The drug helps control hormones that tell the ovaries when to release an egg. There are receptors for the same hormones in the brain cells that control the body's thermostat.
Cetrotide is given by daily, self-administered, under-the-skin injections. Two of the women in the study eventually needed two daily doses.
Cetrotide isn't cheap. A single dose costs about $124, although prices vary from pharmacy to pharmacy. But de Boer says that if clinical trials find the drug to be a safe and effective treatment for hot flashes, demand may drive the price down.
And clinical trials will be needed. De Boer is quick to note that although his small study is suggestive, only much larger studies can show whether -- and how -- Cetrotide can be used to treat hot flashes.
But so far, the treatment seems safe.
"I have not seen any side effects, and I don't expect them," de Boer says. "It may lower estrogen levels further in postmenopausal women, and this could possibly have a negative effect on bone mass. But I don't think we'll see much of this effect because estrogen levels are already so low in postmenopausal women. And in women treated for breast cancer, it could be an advantage if estrogen levels decline further."