7 Best New Drugs for Women
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7 Best New Drugs for Women

The latest treatments for migraines, depression, infertility and more.
If you suffer from migraines:

Relpax (eletriptan hydrobromide) reverses the swelling of blood vessels around the brain to alleviate the pounding pain, nausea and light and sound sensitivity that strike the 20 million female migraine sufferers.

Pros: Headache relief can begin in 30 minutes. Those who take the drug also report a lower recurrence of headaches than those who use other migraine treatments.

Cons: Relpax doesn't work any faster than drugs that are not taken orally, though many people prefer the pill. It also has some side effects, like fatigue, drowsiness, nausea and dizziness.

To aid in fertility:

Bravelle (urofollitropin) is an injectable follicle-stimulating hormone used to induce ovulation, particularly in women whose fertility problems are due to endometriosis, a painful condition in which the uterine-wall tissue migrates and adheres to other pelvic organs.

Pros: These shots are less painful and easier to administer than other fertility shots because they're given under the skin rather than directly into the muscle. Bravelle also costs less per treatment cycle.

Cons: Side effects are similar to those of other fertility drugs and include bloating, headaches, hot flashes, nausea and ovarian hyperstimulation (when the ovaries become enlarged and tender).

To alleviate depression:

Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) raises the levels of serotonin to improve the balance of chemicals in the brain and alleviate depression, like other selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Paxil.

Pros: This SSRI takes effect within a week, and it has fewer side effects than earlier drugs, which often cause stomach upset, headaches, weight gain, body tremors and loss of libido.

Cons: Some doctors think studies indicate modest benefits but view Lexapro as an alternative for patients who have severe side effects from other SSRIs. Side effects include nausea, insomnia and fatigue.

To combat rosacea:

Finacea (azelaic acid) is a topical gel that reduces the papules and pustules of rosacea, a chronic skin condition that affects 14 million Americans. Research suggests that Finacea may interfere with the inflammation that causes the disorder.

Pros: Azaleic acid has long been used as a cream to treat rosacea, but this new gel formula penetrates more deeply, is more effective and isn't greasy, which means it can be applied under makeup.

Cons: Side effects include itching, burning, stinging and tingling. There have also been a few, isolated reports of hypopigmentation (a lightening of the skin) in patients using azelaic acid.

If you are at risk for osteoporosis:

Forteo (teriparatide) is a synthetic hormone (given as a weekly shot) that spurs new bone growth in people with a high risk of bone fracture due to osteoporosis, a bone-thinning disease that afflicts eight million women.

Pros: Unlike older drugs that stop or slow bone loss, Forteo actually stimulates new bone formation in women with the disease.

Cons: Animal research has linked Forteo to a rare bone cancer, though it hasn't been reported in human trials. It also can cost from $500 to $600 a month, and many insurers won't pay for it.

To prevent skin flare-ups:

Amevive (alefacept) is an injectable drug that is the first to work by suppressing the immune-system disruption that causes skin cells to divide at a rapid rate, which is responsible for symptoms such as scaling, itching and redness. This condition affects more than two million women.

Pros: Amevive can prevent flare-ups for a year or more following the 12-week treatment. Other therapies (like topical steroids) don't work as long and can have serious side effects.

Cons: This drug may reduce levels of the body's disease-fighting T cells, making you more susceptible to sickness and infections. Patients must get weekly blood tests to monitor T cell counts.

To treat constipation:

Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate), a tablet taken before meals, is the only approved drug to treat constipation associated with irritable bowel syndrome in the more than 12 million women who suffer from it. By stimulating chemical messengers in the digestive tract, it seems to ease intestinal constrictions.

Pros: Zelnorm also relieves other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including abdominal pains and bloating.

Cons: You can't use the drug for more than three months, since its efficacy and safety beyond that time have not been studied yet. Side effects include headaches, diarrhea and nausea.