Published: Fri, December 01, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

New drug can halve duration of migraines

New drug can halve duration of migraines

People on the lowest dose of the drug had 3.2 fewer days with a headache, and those on the higher dose had 3.7 fewer days with a migraine.

Migraines are believed to affect more than 8.5 million people in the United Kingdom each year.

A BREAKTHROUGH STUDY on the effects a drug has on reducing migraines has been labelled as "a huge deal" and "the start of real change" by scientists and health experts.

The new drug is thought to disable a protein known as calcitonin gene-related peptide.

During some migraine attacks, increased concentrations of CGRP can be found in both saliva and plasma drawn from the external jugular vein. Eli Lilly and Co. and Alder Biopharmaceuticals also are testing similar drugs.

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New drug can halve duration of migraines

Any new drugs will have to be licensed by the European Medicines Agency and assessed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) before they can be made available on the NHS.

Where did the story come from?

The drug, called Erenumab, was administered to more than 900 sufferers via a monthly injection in the latest trial, with positive results.

The studies, as well as an accompanying editorial written by Hershey, were published November 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The UK media greeted the study with enthusiasm, with the Mail Online hailing it as a "Holy Grail" treatment, while The Daily Telegraph said it could "slash in half" the number of days people suffered migraines.

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Erenumab is one of the anti-migraine drugs that is developed jointly by Novartis and Amgen. There are several medications that are being prescribed for migraines and for many these do not work well.

What did the research involve?

The data show that fremanezumab quarterly reduced the average number of headache days per month by 4.3 days, while fremanezumab monthly led to a 4.6-day reduction.

First participants were asked to record their migraine symptoms for 4 weeks using an electronic diary. The rest of the participants were given a placebo injection.

The endpoints of the trial were evaluated from baseline to the average of the last three months.

The six-month long trial featured 955 patients who were randomized to receive either subcutaneous erenumab 70mg or 140mg once a month or placebo.

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The results of a 12-week study indicate that fremanezumab as a preventive treatment for chronic migraine resulted in a lower frequency of headache compared with placebo.

Among all patients who had more than a 50 percent reduction in the number of days they experienced either a severe or moderate headache per month, 37.6 percent on the monthly treatment regimen and 40.8 percent on the quarterly treatment regimen had at least a 50 percent reduction in the number of moderate headaches they experienced per month. The placebo group experienced a 2.5 ±0.3 reduction in headache days, nearly half of that of quarterly and monthly groups.

Symptoms reported included soreness from the injection, colds and tiredness.

Erenumab would be in the markets to prevent episodic attacks of migraine in individuals who have less than 15 attacks a month.

"These drugs are likely to be priced at a high point, and while insurance companies will likely cover them, they may require patients to have tried and failed at other therapies first", Safdieh said.

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Migraines are an extremely common ailment, and recent estimates suggest they affect about one in seven adults annually. "Monoclonal antibodies have a relatively favorable side effect profile". The trial continued beyond this to allow for a safety analysis, so more information about the drug's safety may emerge.

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