Overview of alopecia areata for managed care and payer stakeholders in the United States

Brett King, Edmund Pezalla, Selwyn Fung, Helen Tran, Jeffrey A. Bourret, Kathleen Peeples-Lamirande, Liza Takiya, Lynne Napatalung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Alopecia areata (AA) is an autoimmune disease with a complex pathophysiology resulting in nonscarring hair loss in genetically susceptible individuals. We aim to provide health care decision makers an overview of the pathophysiology of AA, its causes and diagnosis, disease burden, costs, comorbidities, and information on current and emerging treatment options to help inform payer benefit design and prior authorization decisions. Literature searches for AA were conducted using PubMed between 2016 and 2022 inclusive, using search terms covering the causes and diagnosis of AA, pathophysiology, comorbidities, disease management, costs, and impact on quality of life (QoL). AA is a polygenic autoimmune disease that significantly impacts QoL. Patients with AA face economic burden and an increased prevalence of psychiatric disease, as well as numerous systemic comorbidities. AA is predominantly treated using corticosteroids, systemic immunosuppressants, and topical immunotherapy. Currently, there are limited data to reliably inform effective treatment decisions, particularly for patients with extensive disease. However, several novel therapies that specifically target the immunopathology of AA have emerged, including Janus kinase (JAK) 1/2 inhibitors such as baricitinib and deuruxolitinib, and the JAK3/ tyrosine kinase expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma (TEC) family kinase inhibitor ritlecitinib. To support disease management, a disease severity classification tool, the Alopecia Areata Severity Scale, was recently developed that evaluates patients with AA holistically (extent of hair loss and other factors). AA is an autoimmune disease often associated with comorbidities and poor QoL, which poses a significant economic burden for payers and patients. Better treatments are needed for patients, and JAK inhibitors, among other approaches, may address this tremendous unmet medical need.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-856
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of managed care & specialty pharmacy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023


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