New Drugs in 2021

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Here are the most interesting new medications that hit the market in 2021. There were two over-the-counter (OTC) drugs approved in 2021, however one of them them has already been recalled so I am not including it here. I will note whether a drug is prescription or OTC beside the name.

Nextstellus (Drospirenone with Estetrol) Tablets, Rx: This is the first plant-based birth control utilizing estetrol, which is the first type of new estrogen approved in the last 50 years! It’s therefore environmentally friendly, however that comes at a cost… about $300 a month! Like other oral contraceptives, there’s a warning about them being less effective if you have a BMI of 30 or higher (overweight), therefore a second method of contraception may be desired. To be scientifically correct, I want to say that estetrol is actually made by humans (a fetus), but that is not the source used in the medication. You can learn more about how estrogen shapes both men and women in my article here.

Verquvo (Vericiguat) Tablets, Rx: This medication is useful for people who have a high risk of hospitalization due to long-lasting heart failure. It improves their outcomes. The pills are taken once daily. This medication should not be used in pregnant women. Furthermore, it’s mechanism of action is unique. It stimulates an enzyme which works along the nitric oxide pathway, and that in turn improves cardiac contractility among other things. Did you know that E.D. is a predictor of heart failure? Read this article to learn more.

Lastacaft (Alcaftadine) Ophthalmic solution 0.25%, OTC: This medication is for itching of the eyes due to allergies, pollen and dust. Alcaftadine is an antihistamine and blocks a certain allergy chemical(histamine) that typically triggers itching and irritation of the eyes. Take contact lenses out before applying. You can get antihistamines from food as well! Here are 5 natural antihistamine foods.

Tezspire (Tezepelumab-ekko) Injection, Rx: This drug categorized in a special way, as a “thymic stromal lymphopoietin” or TSLP blocker. It’s actually a human monoclonal antibody used for people with severe asthma. The drug works at the top of the inflammatory cytokine cascade, blocking some chemicals in the body that would otherwise cause breathing difficulties. This article discusses products on the market that could help with asthma.

Aduhelm (aducanumab-avwa) Injection, Rx: This medication was fast-tracked in 2021 and approved by the FDA in June 2021. It was probably the most controversial approval in history because for the first time ever, the medication was FDA approved based upon a biomarker (levels of beta amyloid protein), versus clinical outcome. In other words, the drug was not approved because it could improve cognitive symptoms, it was approved because it can reduce the protein known to progress Alzheimer’s disease. It was tested on over 3,400 people prior to approval, and the FDA reserves the right to recall the drug on or before 2030 if it fails to show clinical benefits. Again, that part wasn’t studied, it was approved because it clearly lowers a “bad” lab marker. Did you know people are misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s everyday? This article could save someone you love a lot of unnecessary pain.

Qelbree (Viloxazine) Tablets, Rx: This is a non-stimulant drug used to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) and it’s given once daily. The medication was approved for use in children aged 6 to 17 years old. There is more information at the medication’s website regarding it’s interaction and safety profile which you should read, and discuss with your doctor especially if your child has signs of depression. Based on current data available, Qelbree may be used with stimulant drugs such as methylphenidate. Would it surprise to know that caffeine works similarly to medications that treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)? Read this article to learn more.