New pharmaceutical product inhibits unwanted hair growth

Vaniqa (eflornithine) is a clinically proven topical cream that slows the growth of unwanted facial hair in women, and is now available in Australia. Eflornithine works by blocking the enzyme in the hair follicles that causes hair to grow.

Clinical studies show some women achieve results within one to two months and that Vaniqa is effective in approximately 60 per cent of women at 24 weeks.

Excess body hair (hirsutism) is mostly caused by a disorder of male hormones or androgens in the body. It affects nearly one in ten Australian women. For women, facial hair growth can have a profound effect on a their confidence, self-esteem and quality of life, with one clinical study reporting that one in three women with hirsutism experience clinical depression and three in four women demonstrating clinical levels of anxiety.

Most importantly, hirsutism can be an indication of a serious underlying disease: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which affects 500,000 Australian women according to a Melbourne study in 2005.

According to Associate Professor John Eden a Reproductive Endocrinologist (women’s hormone expert), from the School of Women’s and Children’s Health at the University of NSW: “Between 70 and 90 per cent of women with excess body hair have PCOS, a condition which seems to be increasing in prevalence in Australia. The hair growth can be really severe, mimicking the male pattern, with hair growing on the face, shoulders, tummy and back.

“For treatment of the excess hair growth, I use Vaniqa in combination with other therapies to treat the underlying condition. Using Vaniqa, two thirds of my patients have lost most of their excess facial hair by the next time I see them, three months later,” Associate Professor Eden says.

The prescription-only Vaniqa is a non-hormonal cream, suitable for women and girls over the age of 12 years, which must be used along with other methods of hair removal, including waxing, IPL or electrolysis. Vaniqa is well tolerated although some women can experience mild and temporary skin irritations such as redness, stinging or a rash.

The two main symptoms leading a woman or her GP to investigate the presence of PCOS are excess hair and irregular periods. For Professor Eden, beauty therapists are possibly the most important people when it comes to creating awareness about PCOS because they are seeing women with unwanted excess hair. Already seeing clients referred to him by beauty therapists, Professor Eden notes that many beauty therapists are frustrated when their clients report that their doctor hasn’t taken there excess hair concerns seriously. “For women to be referred by a beauty therapist to a doctor is a perfectly acceptable thing,” he says. “We need to encourage beauty therapists to ask questions of their clients [who present with excess hair concerns]; ask about their periods – that’s the biggest clue [together with excess hair growth].”

Professor Eden anticipates that women asking their doctor for a prescription for Vaniqa may lead to more doctors learning about the medication, and in the process, helping the condition of excess hair growth to be taken more seriously.

Contact: CSL Biotherapies (03) 9389 1911 or visit

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