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A brief overview of innovation within the menopause space

By Roberta Sher, Assistant, Isabel Valdes, Assistant, Ben Hipwell, Associate at Intellectual Property Law Firm, Reddie & Grose

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Menopause is a natural process caused by hormonal changes when a woman’s body nears the end of its reproductive years. 

Although it usually affects women between the ages of 45 and 55, some women enter menopause earlier as a result of chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment, or as a result of a hysterectomy.

Currently in the UK there are an estimated 13 million peri or post-menopausal women, with 77 per cent finding at least one of their symptoms “very difficult” to manage.

In recent years, the conversation around menopause has been getting louder; women are speaking up about their lived experiences and destigmatising a topic that has long been considered taboo.

Whilst we may be starting to break the stigma, medical support for peri and post-menopausal women has a way to go.

There are over 30 symptoms associated with menopause; women experience varying combinations of conditions ranging from sleep problems and mood changes to hot flushes and palpitations.

Although there is an alarming lack of research, it is obvious that the market must address the unique nature of peri and post-menopausal women through precision medicine and individually tailored interventions.

Three key areas for innovation within the menopause space have been spotlighted as: consumables, wearables and biotech.

These innovation gaps provide ample opportunity for new technologies to be brought forward, and we are witnessing an exciting increase in the number of companies entering and competing within the menopause technology market.

The global menopause market size was estimated at USD 16.9 billion in 2022, but is expected to grow to USD 24.4 billion by 2030.

From an Intellectual Property perspective, this makes the menopause technology sector both highly competitive and challenging to navigate.

Below, we highlight three products that represent a snapshot of the innovation currently happening in this space:

  • The Embr Wave 2, by Embr Labs: a watch that delivers cooling or warming ‘thermal waves’ to the temperature-sensitive skin of the inner wrist for on-demand hot flash relief. It has received numerous awards, including the AARP Innovation in Aging Award, Time Magazine’s Best Inventions, and the iF Design Award. Embr Labs was also listed in CB Insights’ Digital Health 150.
  • The Menopause Stage Indicator, by ClearBlue: a urine testing kit combined with a smart algorithm in an app, that provides an indication of menopause stage by tracking levels of FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) over several days.
  • Astellas Pharma and Bayer/KaNDY Therapeutics have developed fezolinetant (Veozah) and elinzanetant respectively; these are neurokinin 3 receptor (NK3R) antagonist drugs for hot flash management in menopause. Fezolinetant, approved by the FDA in May 2023, was the first non-hormonal treatment to address the neural signalling underlying hot flashes.

Careful consideration of IP and obtaining adequate IP protection is essential for companies operating within this competitive and innovative space.

This is particularly the case for start-ups, where one idea or product often forms the core of the business.

Being able to demonstrate a considered approach to IP protection can also be attractive to potential investors.

In a market where technological innovations are significant factors in achieving commercial success, patent protection usually plays a central role in a company’s IP strategy.

The examples above each present unique challenges and opportunities from a patent perspective.

The aspects of a new product that may be patentable are dictated by the nature of the technology.

A good example of this is Embr Labs, who are innovators in wearable technology, and who have filed a number of patent applications directed to the specific mechanism by which a wearable device (such as a watch or facemask) can apply heat to the skin of a user.

With millions of women entering menopause every year and research focusing on improving the health and wellbeing of peri and post-menopausal women, we are hopeful there will be an increase in innovation within this space in the coming years.

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