We’ve talked about the scientific approach in this blog a few times now. In the search for a cure for Alopecia Areata (patchy hair loss), though, the argument for a wholly scientific approach is weak. Basically, if no-one’s done experiments that demonstrate an effective treatment for Alopecia Areata, then it’s true to say that according to science, nothing can be done and everyone can hold their hands up and say “we did it by the book”, leaving you to live with your bald patches.
|Alopecia Areata shows as patchy hair loss|
It’s all rather harsh, since patchy hair loss, while it isn’t a life threatening illness, is socially debilitating. People with Alopecia Areata tend not to go out as much and there’s an increased chance of depression. It’s particularly difficult when, as it often does, it affects teenagers and young adults.
Wikipedia’s “there’s no known treatment for Alopecia Areata” is right, then, but perhaps might be better worded as “science has not yet demonstrated a cure for Alopecia Areata”, or perhaps even better “the pharmaceutical company that developed Minoxidil (Upjohn Corporation) doesn’t consider it profitable enough to go through the expense of getting approval for Minoxidil to be licensed for use as a treatment for Alopecia Areata”.
The problem isn’t that Alopecia Areata is always going to be incurable or untreatable, it’s that right now, either no-one’s worked out a sure-fire way to cure it, or they have, but it’s not worth them going through the process of getting that treatment approved.
According to this article it takes on average 90.3 months and $802 million (2005) to get a drug through FDA approval, so people with relatively rare ailments tend to lose out because there are fewer potential customers from which to recoup those costs.
Those costs must be recoupable within 20 years from the day the drug was invented1, as that’s the length of time a patent is granted for. So, the patent on Minoxidil expired on February 13, 1996, while Merck’s patent for the use of Finasteride (Propecia) to treat Male Pattern Baldness expires in November 20132.
Wikipedia says 50% of cases will cure themselves within 1 year. So how do we know that cases like this one wouldn’t have just happened on their own?
Are we, in the absence of an answer from science and without an approved drug for Alopecia Areata, thrown back into the melee of hearsay, of “my grandad cured it by drinking beer and playing snooker every night” and so on?
No. Start with what we know. The scientific approach is the only sound basis for making decisions about treatment, so start by visiting a professional hair loss clinic such as The Belgravia Centre. At least someone rooted in the scientific method is more likely to evaluate information well, to ask the right questions and to be professional.
But it’s much more hopeful than that. We are the only hair loss clinic to have an in-house pharmacy licensed with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. That means of course we can prescribe the licensed medications (eg. Minoxidil), but also we can produce our own. That process is overseen by our doctor who reviews each case and signs the prescriptions if suitable.
Here at the Belgravia Centre we’ve worked with many Alopecia sufferers and our strong feeling is that it’s no co-incidence when hair regrows within three months of the start of treatment. When we see people with a bald patch they’ve had for months that goes shortly after treatment, we see the treatment working, not just co-incidence. Take a look at our Alopecia Areata patient photographs to see our results.
An Alopecia Areata bald patch can regrow at any time. Our ‘evidence’ is that patches often begin to regrow within three months of the start of our treatment programme. It’s the timing that gives us confidence about our treatment.
|Alopecia Areata patient after 5 months treatment at The Belgravia Centre|
We usually use a high strength minoxidil available from our pharmacy. Doctors do sometimes recommend steroid injections (which is curious, if there’s no known scientific cure), but our clients tell us that’s a less pleasant option (injections into the scalp) with no better chance of success.
If you think you have Alopecia Areata and can get to our London clinic, by all means phone 020 7730 6666 for an appointment with a professional trichologist, or contact us through this website. If you’re not near London, we have an online hair loss diagnosis option and can send your custom treatment programme to you by post.