According to Prof Ralf Paus, a dermatologist at the University of Manchester, this is because hair loss is still viewed largely as a cosmetic problem, rather than a disease. Because of this, in the western world, neither industry nor academic funding bodies have been willing to spend substantial sums of money on hair research. Despite the scale of patient demand, they have been dissuaded by the knowledge that any drug that hits the market is unlikely to be covered by the NHS or insurance companies.
“If you look at the sums pharma companies have spent on coming up with new cancer or heart disease drugs, this is in the billions,” Paus says. “These investments have just not been made into serious hair research.”