A Faifley woman has told of her optimism after a drug which is hoped to help people living with alopecia was approved for use in the NHS in Scotland.

On April 8, the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) accepted ritlecitinib – under the brand name Litfulo - for the treatment of severe alopecia areata for those aged 12 and over.

Megan McCready, who was diagnosed with alopecia at 12 years old, hailed the move as a “massive step forward” for anyone suffering from hair loss but also raised concerns that the rollout could become a bit of a “postcode lottery”.

Clydebank Post: Megan with her natural hairMegan with her natural hair (Image: Megan McCready)She said: “It’s great to hear that it has been approved. It’s a massive step forward for anyone suffering from alopecia or any form of hair loss.

“However, geographically it could be a loss. It’s all about postcode lottery in a way. That’s something that I’ve considered because even though it’s approved in Scotland will it be approved in my [healthboard] area and if so how many people can get it?”

The 21-year-old explained that she has tried various other treatments over the years and would be open to trying Litfulo if given the chance.

Clydebank Post: Megan now provides support to young people going through diagnosis Megan now provides support to young people going through diagnosis (Image: Megan McCready)She added: “If I was able to try it I definitely would. I’ve done other treatments before so I know the reality of going through them, having that hope and then losing it if it doesn’t work out.

“So I wouldn’t be going in with the mindset of this being a solution and that my hair will grow back, I would look at it as an opportunity.

“It would maybe be a step forward to getting my hair back and if not then at least I’ve tried it. There are repercussions of looking at it as a solution because if your hair comes back and then you stop the treatment and it all falls out again that is sometimes a lot worse than losing it the first time.”

According to Alopecia UK, this is reportedly the first time that the SMC has accepted a licenced treatment for severe alopecia areata for routine use by NHS Scotland.

Sue Schilling, chief executive officer at the charity said this is “great news” but added that the organisation remains unsure as to how the treatment will be rolled out by the NHS.

She commented: “We hope that Litfulo will be a treatment option for many patients with severe alopecia areata across the whole of the UK.

“Unfortunately, in reality, we are still unsure what will happen for patients wishing to access this treatment via the NHS.

“We know that dermatology referral pathways continue to be challenging for many, with many patients with alopecia experiencing difficulties in getting a referral to a dermatologist, along with dermatology waiting times, and we know Litfulo is likely to only be prescribed by a dermatologist.

“It is well recognised that the quality and availability of healthcare services can vary significantly based on where you live.  

“We sincerely hope this will not be the case for Litfulo. We will, of course, also continue our work to provide information on how to live well with alopecia, so that those who either cannot have treatment, are unsuccessful with treatment, or choose not to have treatment, are empowered with confidence.”

Nearly a decade on from her diagnosis, Megan, who studies interior design at Glasgow School of Art, now supports other young people going through the same process.

The former Clydebank High pupil explained that it was at a hairdressing appointment that she was first made aware that she was experiencing hair loss.

Megan said: “I first found out about it when I was at the hairdressers. Luckily enough it was the hairdressers I’d been going to since I was a baby so they knew me really well.

“They were really good and sympathetic about it. That was during the summer time and after that, I went to high school.

“I was losing my hair more and more because of the stress of high school and the stress of trying to hide my bald patches.

“It was a hard time. For me, it's genetic, my mum’s got it too. It’s quite rare that it’s genetic. I’ve not met many people who have it genetically.

“I knew what it was from the start but I wanted to have that confirmation from a doctor so I booked in with my local GP and the doctor didn’t even know what alopecia was.

“They had to google it. The fact that there’s not much information for GPs is quite scary in the sense that you’re going in with something that is already scaring you and your doctor doesn’t even know what it is.

“I now always try and help people who have or know someone who has alopecia.”