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Menstrual Cramps May Be Helped by New Drug

If trials succeed, medication would block hormone that controls uterine contractions

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- A new drug shows promise in treating severe menstrual cramps, researchers say.

The condition, called dysmenorrhea, affects 45 percent to 90 percent of women of child-bearing age and is the leading cause of school and job absenteeism among women in their teens and 20s, according to a news release from the American Chemical Society. Existing treatments, such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatory drugs and oral contraceptives, are ineffective in nearly one-third of women with moderate to severe dysmenorrhea, the news release noted.

Menstrual cramps are caused by contractions of the uterus. In dysmenorrhea, the uterus contracts with increased frequency.

The British pharmaceutical company Vantia Ltd. has developed an investigational pill, called VA111913, that's designed to block the hormone vasopressin, which plays a role in regulating contraction of the uterus.

Last year, a stage 1 clinical trial showed that VA111913 was safe. The drug is currently in Phase 2 clinical trials to evaluate how well it works to control pain in women with dysmenorrhea. The results of the studies, which are being conducted by Vantia, are expected later this year.

"We hope that the drug will provide a more effective treatment option for millions of women worldwide with this painful condition," Vantia's Andrzej R. Batt, said in the news release. "Dysmenorrhea not only diminishes the quality of life for millions of women, but also has a hidden, society-wide economic cost that involves an enormous number of days lost from work and school."

Details about the drug were to be presented Tuesday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

More information

The University of Wisconsin has more about painful menstrual periods.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Chemical Society, news release, March 23, 2010

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