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A New Non-Estrogen for Hot Flashes

I recently interviewed presenters at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) in Orlando, Florida.

One new study to keep an eye on evaluated the effectiveness of a modified version of an antidepressant drug – paroxetine. The study was designed as part of the FDA approval process to evaluate a low-dose variant of an existing medication sometimes used for hot flashes. The hope was that this modified lower dose version would be an effective non-estrogen treatment for hot flashes with fewer side effects than the existing paroxetine.

The new drug differs from the original one in that it has a slightly different chemical structure that allows it to be used in a lower dosage. It is technically called a low-dose mesylate salt of paroxetine or LDMP. The intent was to prevent the frequently found side effects of the full dosage for which nausea, weight gain, and reduced sexual function are common.

The study evaluated LDMP in approximately 500 women who had at least seven hot flashes daily and were very affected by their symptoms. Half of the women received LDMP and the other half received a placebo. The women were followed for 12 weeks for efficacy and for a total of 24 weeks for safety.

Paroxetine comes in dosages of 10mg, 20mg, 30mg and 40mg. In this study, a low-dose of 7.5 mg of the mesylate salt of paroxetine was able to statistically reduce hot flashes both in frequency and severity compared to women who received a placebo.

The effect began at one week and became statistically significant shortly after that. The benefits remained statistically significant at 4, 8, 12, and 24 weeks, which was the duration of the study.

There was a low frequency of side effects; most commonly nausea, that occurred in 4 percent of treatment group compared to 1 percent of placebo.

Hot flashes affect approximately 75 percent of women as they enter and pass through perimenopause and menopause. As millions of women know, hot flashes are very disruptive and affect the way they feel and sleep and the quality of their lives.

So naturally, women in menopause are looking for a safe and effective treatment for hot flashes. For now, the one approved and effective treatment is estrogen. Unfortunately, estrogen, also called estrogen therapy (ET), hormone therapy (HT) or in the past, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) comes with side effects and risks that make it an unacceptable or undesirable choice for many women.

Other treatments include over the counter remedies and lifestyle changes.

LDMP is currently being evaluated at the FDA and hopefully will become an FDA approved non-hormonal alternative to treat hot flashes some time near the end of 2013. See my interview above with the lead investigator, Dr. Jim Simon.

Click here for a free eBook on how to take estrogen.

Related:
A Brief Primer on Menopause Hormone Therapy
7 Tips to Improve Your Menopause Mind
Alternatives to Hormone Therapy for Hot Flashes

Read more: Aging, Anxiety, Blogs, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Menopause, Stay Well With Dr. Seibel, Videos

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Dr. Mache Seibel

Women's health expert and guest speaker Dr. Mache Seibel addresses consumers' critical needs from weight control to HRTmenopause and beyond. He served on the Harvard Medical School faculty for 19 years and is founder of My Menopause Magazine on the Apple Newsstand (http://bit.ly/MyMenoMag). Download the Free App and first Free issue. He works with companies and organizations to bring exciting educational content to consumers. Visit his award-winning website DoctorSeibel.com to sign up for his free monthly newsletter.

15 comments

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10:24AM PDT on Oct 20, 2012

I so wish some of this hot-flash and other symptoms research had provided some relief when I was going through menopause 15 years ago. I'm on the leading edge of baby-boomers and back then there was nothing. I even asked a pharmacist about any otc remedies, he just shook his head no and acted extremely embarrassed that I had asked.

6:37PM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

Djeezzz, disappointing! I'd thought they were talking about a natural, plant-derived remedy!

4:15AM PDT on Oct 14, 2012

Thanks so much.

3:58AM PDT on Oct 13, 2012

Great

8:39PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Thanks for some good news. After 15 years I still have problems.

8:28PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Thanks

7:36PM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

Aren't we women "lucky"! I enjoyed Nancy H.'s comment. We go through so much more with our bodies than men. C'est la vie! We all get through it though, don't we?

8:07AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

I currently take paroxetine for other reasons and am also having menopausal symptoms, which include hot flashes. I would hate to see what those hot flashes would be like without it, or perhaps it doesn't help them at all.

This is a very difficult drug to wean off of, and therefore wouldn't recommend it, unless absolutely necessary.

6:40AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

To Cheryl l. Menopause is not all that bad. I'm 62, had a total hysterectomy in my 50's and take low dosage estrogen.

Each age has it's benefits and deficits. I can enjoy my children as adults and, while worrying about them will never end, respect their choices in life. I can enjoy my grandchildren for a short time and send them home.

Retirement is wonderful! Responsibilities are greatly reduced! Freedom to wake when I want and go to bed when I want! I can be as lazy as I want and stay in my jammies all day if I so choose! Hot flashes are wonderful in the winter. Summers can be a problem though ;-}.

Menopause brings lots of changes in your life but most will be positive and freeing.....no more birth control, periods, cramps, bleed through, etc.

So, Cheryl, enjoy every stage of your life, they all have their happy times!

1:20AM PDT on Oct 12, 2012

I am so not looking forward to this time in my life.

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