Roberta Renzelli-Cain, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology in the WVU School of Medicine, offers her thoughts on a new drug that could have big impacts in the lives of menopausal women. (WVU Photo)
With the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of Veozah, a drug to treat hot flashes, one West Virginia University medical expert expects it to serve as a game changer in the quality of life for menopausal women.
However, Roberta Renzelli-Cain, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, WVU School of Medicine, cautions that the new drug may not be affordable or easily obtained by those on Medicare or Medicaid, or even the “average insurance company.”
“The cost of Veozah is estimated to be around $550 for a 30-day supply. Typically, when a new drug comes to market, the pharmaceutical company will have discount coupons for patient use with commercial insurance plans. However, these coupons typically cannot be used by patients who have drug coverage through Medicare or Medicaid. Hence many of our patients will not be eligible for Veozah.
“For some commercial insurance companies, even hormonal therapies that now come in a multitude of generic options are not covered whatsoever or are not included in a top tier of drug treatment options; therefore, I am not feeling optimistic about the average insurance company’s coverage of Veozah. Veozah will likely be covered for those who are fortunate enough to have the ‘golden policy.’
“There still seems to be a lack of understanding that for some women, this is not just a little flushing, sweating or one of life’s transitions that can be remedied with a fan. For many women, these symptoms alter one’s quality of life by causing sleep disruptions, chronic feelings of fatigue, missed work and loss of quality time with family and friends. This is a disease for many, and when we have insurance companies — not physicians — defining what’s a treatable disease, there is a larger problem.
“Veozah gives me hope. This drug has special implications for West Virginia women, as hormonal therapy is no longer a treatment option for vasomotor symptoms once a woman has been diagnosed with heart disease. However, hormone therapy if prescribed in the right patient during the appropriate therapeutic window may prevent heart disease. Given that our state consistently ranks among the bottom 10 in the union for heart disease, Veozah has special implications here at home.” — Roberta Renzelli-Cain, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, WVU School of Medicine
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