Millions of Patients Suffer from Pruritus or Itch
There are over 20 million patients with chronic pruritus (itching) treated with prescription drugs in U.S. each year. Many of these patients still experience inadequate relief of their itching. Pruritus or itching can be caused by a number of diseases ranging from dermatological conditions (e.g. atopic dermatitis, eczema and psoriasis), to hepatic conditions (e.g. hepatitis, primary biliary cirrhosis) to chronic kidney disease. In fact, most of the dermatological patients diagnosed with atopic dermatitis or psoriasis suffer from itching as well as a third of the patients suffering from cholestatic liver disease and chronic kidney disease.
The current therapies, primarily corticosteroids and antihistamines, are many times ineffective in treating the disease and/or produce significant side effects. Because of this, there is a large opportunity for a novel product that is effective in managing pruritus while minimizing side effects.
The Need for a Truly Novel Antipruritic for Itch
Despite the fact that there are lots of medicines used to treat pruritus, many patients still experience inadequate itch relief as well as significant side effects with their medications. One the significant problems with many itch medicines today is the manner in which they work. Many chronic itch states are not due to the release of histamine – a common cause of itching; therefore, the use of one of the main classes of antipruritic drugs, antihistamines (e.g. Claritin, Benadryl), is generally ineffective. Also, the long term use of the other main class of drugs used for itch, corticosteroids is problematic due to their side-effect profile. There are many examples of a patient populations that suffers from chronic itch in which current therapies are ineffective. A good example of this is uremic pruritus – an itch that develops in patients with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and in particular with patients on dialysis.
The patients who live with chronic itch and the clinicians who treat it are desperately in need of a new novel antipruritic that will work differently than corticosteroids and antihistamines to provides itch relief without the significant side effects you find in yesterday’s and today’s medicines.