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Drug for treatment of endometriosis symptoms addresses ‘key clinical need’

Ryeqo, a drug aimed at relieving the symptoms associated with endometriosis, has been approved by Australia’s drug regulator this week



A drug for the treatment of endometriosis symptoms, which has been approved by Australia’s drug regulator, could address an important unmet clinical need, experts have said.

Endometriosis, a chronic condition that affects 10 per cent of women and girls globally, occurs when cells similar to those lining the womb are found elsewhere in the body. It can cause painful symptoms, including heavy periods, pelvic pain and in extreme cases scarring and damage to the pelvic organs.

Currently, there is no cure for endometriosis and the diagnostic delay averages between seven to nine years globally.

Ryeqo, a once-daily tablet aimed at relieving the symptoms associated with endometriosis and uterine fibroids, contains the active substances relugolix, estradiol and norethisterone acetate.

Relugolix blocks the pituitary gland from releasing luteinising hormone and follicle-stimulating hormone, which in turn prevents the production of progesterone and decreases the production of oestrogen. Both progesterone and oestrogen are hormones that are involved in fibroid growth and oestrogen promotes growth of tissue similar to that lining the womb.

Estradiol, a form of the natural sex hormone oestrogen, helps to reduce symptoms related to the lowered levels of oestrogen, such as hot flushes and bone density loss.

However, since estradiol used alone can thicken the endometrium, the active substance norethisterone acetate in Ryeqo blocks the effects of estradiol on the womb, reducing the risk of endometrial growth.

The drug, developed by the pharmaceutical company Gedeon Richter, was approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for the treatment of symptoms associated with endometriosis on Friday, following the European Commission’s approval of the treatment in November.

Approval of Ryeqo means the TGA is satisfied there is enough evidence for its efficacy in treating endometriosis symptoms.

Karolina Afors, a consultant gynaecologist at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said the drug addresses an important unmet clinical need.

“It provides an extra choice to tackle a significant gap in medical care for endometriosis by offering effective, safe and well-tolerated treatment options that can be utilised over an extended period,” Afors told Femtech World.

“This can help enhance quality of life for individuals dealing with the condition. Additionally, it can help support the care of women with endometriosis seeking longer-term effective medical management of their symptoms and can be used as an adjunct to those awaiting surgical excision treatment.”

Dr Nitish Narvekar, fertility consultant at King’s Fertility, clinical director gynaecology at King’s College London and the lead for NHS fertility services at King’s College Hospital, said: “We are delighted that Ryeqo has been approved for medical management of endometriosis in Australia.

“Because it is a combination therapy, Ryeqo maintains oestrogen levels and therefore can be prescribed for long-term use, albeit with regular checks of bone mineral density.”

The medication, he said, has the potential to meet the long-term treatment needs of patients with endometriosis whilst reducing the need for analgesia and repeated surgical treatment.

Brittany Hawkins, co-founder and CEO of Elanza Wellness, a digital platform for endometriosis, described Ryeqo’s approval as exciting.

“More effective symptom relief options are desperately needed for the millions of patients around the world with endometriosis who currently face long battles to find what works for them individually,” she told Femtech World.

“While it is far from a silver bullet, Ryeqo’s approval demonstrates that researchers and policymakers are taking seriously the often unheard voices advocating for better ongoing management of this condition.”

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Start-up launches London Underground campaign to break down period stigma

The two-week campaign seeks to challenge societal taboos surrounding menstrual health



The Irish women’s health start-up Riley has launched an ad campaign on the London Underground to “take the fear out of periods”.

Riley, an eco-friendly period product subscription service, aims to take action against period poverty and democratise access to period products.

The company seeks to encourage the introduction of menstrual health policies and foster a workplace where discussions around periods are normalised.

Its two-week London Underground campaign, which coincides with the opening of its first office in London, is hoped to help destigmatise periods and normalise conversations around menstrual health.

“The idea behind this campaign comes from the fact that free period care in the office is often seen as an employee perk or a ‘nice to have’, when it should actually be an essential offering in every office,” Meaghan Droney, eCommerce manager at Riley, told Femtech World.

“Our aim with this campaign is to flip those current mindsets and get people to change their attitudes towards period care in the workplace.

“With 79 per cent of menstruators feeling unsupported in relation to their periods at work, this oversight is clearly fundamentally unfair and it’s time for change.

“We’re encouraging any and all businesses to get in touch with us so we can support them in introducing menstrual policies and free period care in their workplace to empower all employees, no matter their gender, to thrive and feel valued at work.”

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that only 12 per cent of UK companies provide support for menstruation and menstrual health, despite 85 per cent of women experiencing stress or anxiety when managing their period at work.

Data suggests that half of the women who take absence because of their menstrual cycle feel unable to tell their manager, underscoring the deep-rooted stigma around periods.

Fiona Parfrey, co-founder of Riley, said: “Access to safe and high-quality sustainable period care products not only demonstrates a commitment to employee welfare but also fosters a culture of empathy, equality, and respect, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and empowered workforce.

“Menstrual policies and free period care are a fundamental necessity for every individual in the workplace. It’s about ensuring that employees have the resources they need to maintain their wellbeing and productivity without interruption.”

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges



A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform



Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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