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Drug Restores Hair in Some With Alopecia: FAQ

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Jakafi, the brand name for ruxolitinib, costs $8,753 for a month’s supply, which amounts to more than $100,000 a year, says Pamela Murphy. She's vice president for investor relations and corporate communications at Incyte, the Wilmington, DE, company that markets the drug.

“I think that is a pretty high price point,” Clynes says. “Our hope is a year of therapy wouldn’t be required.” If a wealthy person with alopecia wanted to try the drug, he says, “I would not personally be uncomfortable prescribing the medicine if the patient was otherwise healthy and young and had an expected low-level risk of complications.”

Q. What’s the next step?

A. Clynes and Christiano are seeking funding to conduct a randomized trial comparing a JAK inhibitor -- besides ruxolitinib and tofacitinib -- with an inactive pill in people with alopecia. 

In a partnership with drug companies Novartis and Eli Lilly, Incyte does not have any rights to develop Jakafi tablets for any use other than treating cancer, so it won’t ever get approved to treat alopecia, Murphy says. “We don’t want to raise expectations of patients inappropriately,” she says.

But, she says, Incyte can do what it likes with the topical form of the drug. While the company has tested the topical form on people with psoriasis (a long-term skin disorder that, like alopecia, is an autoimmune disease), it has no plans to pursue the topical form for that purpose.

“Right now we’re not doing anything with the topical, but we’re interested in working with Columbia [University Medical Center],” she says.

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