EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) has recommended that medicines with daily doses of 10 mg or more of cyproterone should only be used for androgen-dependent conditions such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth), alopecia (hair loss), acne and seborrhoea (excessively oily skin) once other treatment options, including treatment with lower doses, have failed. Once higher doses have started working, the dose should be gradually reduced to the lowest effective dose.
The medicines should only be used for reduction of sex drive in sexual deviations in men when other treatment options are not suitable.
There is no change in use of the medicines in men for prostate cancer.
The recommendations follow a review of the risk of the rare tumour meningioma with cyproterone. Overall, this side effect is rare: it may affect between 1 and 10 in 10,000 people, depending on the dose and duration of treatment. The risk increases with increasing cumulative doses (the total amount of medicine a patient has taken over time).
Available data do not indicate a risk for low-dose cyproterone medicines containing 1 or 2 milligrams cyproterone in combination with ethinylestradiol or estradiol valerate and used for acne, hirsutism, contraception, or hormone replacement therapy. However, as a precaution, they should not be used in people who have or have had a meningioma. This restriction is already in place for the higher dose medicines.
Doctors should monitor patients for symptoms of meningioma, which can include changes in vision, hearing loss or ringing in the ears, loss of smell, headaches, memory loss, seizures or weakness in arms and legs. If a patient is diagnosed with meningioma, treatment with cyproterone medicines must be stopped permanently.
As part of the ongoing surveillance of the safety of the medicines, companies marketing medicines containing 10 mg or more of cyproterone will be required to carry out a study to assess doctors’ awareness of the risk of meningioma and how to avoid it.
Meningioma is a rare tumour of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is usually non-malignant and is not considered to be a cancer, but due to their location in and around the brain and spinal cord, meningiomas can cause serious problems.