Some with endometriosis may be prescribed gonadotropin releasing hormone’s (GnRH) to combat their disease growth. While there is literature touting the benefits and negatives of GnRH agonist therapy, as well as a plethora of personal accounts to be found on-line as to both, this post will not discuss either.
There has always been a few major drawbacks to GnRH agonist therapy (and not even taking into account side effects). GnRH agonist’s are often very expensive and require either hefty out-of-pocket expenses, or waiting for insurance approvals. I’ve heard of one popular GnRH, Lupron, costing one woman $1,000 a shot without insurance. Considering this medication is taken either at three-month intervals for six months at a time, this would have cost her $2,000. GnRH agonist’s are also subcutaneously delivered medications, which means given in a shot form. People may have a fear of needles. Also, because of the delivery system, it can only be administered by a clinician (unless prescribed in the daily form for fertility treatment).
So, how about a pill form GnRH? Avoid the needle and the trip to the doctor every 1-3 months for your injection. Sound good? It sounds rather swell to Soligenix, the makers of a Lipid Polymer Micelle (LPM™). This new technology allows for GnRH agonist medications like Soligenixs’ Leuprolide to be delivered orally. According to the press release on their website:
Soligenix has received a European patent which addresses its Lipid Polymer Micelle (LPM™) technology for the improved oral delivery of drugs. The issued European patent, EP 1460992, entitled “Stabilized Reverse Micelle Compositions and Uses Thereof” covers lipid structures (reverse micelles) that promote the intestinal absorption of peptides and other sensitive drugs that cannot otherwise be given orally. (Soligenix, Inc.)
Patents are pending for this the Lipid Polymer Micelle (LPM™) technology in the United States.
But I wonder, will Soligenix merely use this new technology as a platform to reach more endometriosis patients with their medication? Or, will they use this opportunity to lower the cost of GnRH agonist medications both reaching more patients and aiding a burdened health care system beholden to wealthy drug companies? One can argue that by lowering the cost of the medication they can reach more patients, thus increasing their overall profit margin. And while this may be smart marketing – I’m not a marketing major – will Soligenix do it? Or, will doctors begin pushing yet another drug onto already frustrated endometriosis patients. But now, instead of fending them off with “but it’s a shot and I’m just not ready for that!”, or, “it’s a long acting shot, I don’t want that in my system!”, they can retaliate with it being an easy to swallow pill that we can stop at anytime. Or, will this be a once a month pill, or once every three-month pill like? And if that’s the case, should we assume it will be more expensive because of its ease of use promise?
Right now, there are too many questions left unanswered. Yet, the fact that a company was ingenious enough to develop and patent a method to orally deliver a medication such as a GnRH agonist is impressive. As I previously stated, this post is not for defending or refuting GnRH’s. You may love them or hate them. They do have serious side effects and if one is considering using them one should weigh all the evidence, do their research, and make their own choice based on their personal medical needs. Some people experience horrific side effects with GnRH agonist’s – some lasting for years after stopping therapy – while others swear by the medication and wish they could take them continuously. Knowing how your body reacts to medications is vital in chosing which medicinal therapy to employ for your battle with endometriosis. And that is a decision that should be made between you and your doctor.