The future is looking bright for Interstitial Cystitis patients as new treatment developments are in the works. Thanks to the RAND Interstitial Cystitis Epidemiology (RICE) study, urologists and researchers have discovered that Interstitial Cystitis is more prevalent than once thought and doctors will have better methods to diagnose and treat IC with. Philip M. Hanno, MD, MPH, professor of urology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia says that the higher rate of prevalence should “stimulate the drug development, since the market may now be large enough for new products to be profitable. It should also spur academic and government-sponsored research to serve this significant population.”
One of the treatment approaches to be further studied is the use of Elavil, or amitriptyline, for the early stages of IC, which is a medication already used to treat the illness. The study is being conducted to help evaluate whether the use of amitriptyline can make a difference in the overall course of the illness if it has been diagnosed and treated in the early stages.
New treatment approaches to be studied include the use of Botox (botulinum toxin A) injections, a Chinese herbal therapy that contains a nerve-targeting plant alkaloid and acupuncture. According to Dr. Hanno:
“These are both very small studies, but they are interesting and may get more researchers interested in doing bigger, placebo-controlled trials or even looking at potential new medications based on Chinese medicine. That session will also include a report from a group of researchers working on phenotyping IC or characterizing different patient groups. It may help us with selecting proper treatments and also learning about what the cause of the disease is.”
Unfortunately, the process of getting new treatments approved is a long and expensive task with several studies, trials, and everything else that’s involved. Interstitial Cystitis patients currently only have one FDA-approved treatment method to rely on for their IC symptoms and that is Elmiron, which was approved back in 1996. It’s time we have more options available to us.