There’s a New FDA-Approved Pill to Treat Endometriosis…but It’ll Cost You

Photo: Stocksy/Michela Ravasio
Years ago, women who endured extremely painful periods generally just thought they had to suck it up and push through, not realizing it wasn't the norm. (Female pain has been grossly overlooked for years, after all.) But as the conversation around endometriosis has grown, partially thanks to the openness of celebrities like Lena Dunham and Julianne Hough—more and more women are finally able to identify what's causing their symptoms. And now, for the first time in 10 years, there's a new FDA-approved oral medication that could help ease those symptoms, according to a press release from the pill's manufacturer. But, only if you can afford it.

When a woman has endometriosis, tissue similar to what normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus on other body parts. The big issue with that? The tissue still thickens, breaks down, and bleeds—just in the wrong area, which traps it inside of you since there's no way for it to exit the body like it normally would during your period, the Mayo Clinic reports. The result is a lot of pain—both during the menstrual cycle and sex—as well as fertility issues. And that's where the pricey but ostensibly effective Orilissa comes in.

Very few of the estimated 200 million worldwide who suffer from endometriosis will be able to take advantage of Orilissa, which costs $845 a month—working out to more than $10,000 per year.

The new drug from the biopharmaceutical company AbbVie has gotten the official go-ahead to help treat endometriosis, and it showed promising results during its testing phase, according to CBS News. Orilissa—which works by reducing the production of estrogen—effectively decreased menstrual pain in 45 percent of women on a low dose and 75 percent of women on a high dose compared to 20 percent who had been given a placebo. On top of that, test participants also experienced lowered pain outside menstruation. As for the side effects, some participants experienced hot flashes, headaches, and bone thinning.

So, how can you get your hands on this pain-reducing drug? While it's great news that there's finally an option available for those suffering from endometriosis—which currently has no cure—the relief doesn't come cheap. Unfortunately, there's a good chance that very few of the estimated 200 million worldwide who suffer from the condition will be able to take advantage of Orilissa, which costs $845 a month before insurance—working out to more than $10,000 per year. Thanks a lot, pink tax. Basically, time spent crossing your fingers for a generic version is time well spent.

This is the one thing Julianne Hough says people get wrong about endometriosis. Or, see what Padma Lakshmi has to say about her own battle with endometriosis.

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