New once-a-month drug offers hope to millions with severe migraines (and it will be available next week)
- The injected medication Aimovig is due to be available within the next week
- Unlike other migraine drugs, it does not cause side effects like weight gain
- Side effects can be worse than migraines, with up to 86% stopping treatment
- A study participant went from 27 migraines a month to two since January
- Some are concerned Aimovig may be too expensive for insurers and patients
The first migraine-prevention drug was approved by US regulators yesterday.
Due to be available within the next week, experts claim the injected medication, known as Aimovig, will ‘change the way we treat migraines’. It is unclear if the drug may be available outside of the US.
The once-a-month treatment works by blocking the protein CGRP, which is elevated in migraine sufferers.
Unlike existing treatments that reduce CGRP levels, Aimovig, which is manufactured by pharma giants Amgen and Novartis, does not cause side effects, such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction and dry mouth.
Previous research suggests migraine drug side effects are often worse than the headaches themselves, with up to 86 percent of patients discontinuing treatment within a year.
Migraines affect more than 37 million people in the US. Around six million suffer in the UK.
US regulators approved the first migraine-prevention drug yesterday (stock)
WHAT HELPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINES?
Being open to new experiences reduces people’s risk of migraines, research suggested in June 2017.
A preference for variation over routine prevents crippling headaches among depression sufferers, a study found.
Yet, neuroticism – a personality trait associated with nervousness and irritability – increases migraine’s risk, the research adds.
Study author Dr Máté Magyar from Semmelweis University in Budapest, said: ‘An open character appears to offer protection from [migraine].
‘Our study results could help to provide a better understanding of the biopsychosocial background of migraine, and help to find novel strategies in the prevention of and interventions for [migraine].’
The researchers analysed the relationship between personality traits, depression and migraines in more than 3,000 sufferers of the mental-health condition.
Depression is associated with an increased risk of migraines.
The participants were ranked according to their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
‘They will change the way we treat migraine’
Speaking of Aimovig’s expected impact on migraine treatment, Dr Stewart J. Tepper, from Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, told the NY Times: ‘They shake the ground under our feet. They will change the way we treat migraine.’
Robin Overlock, 32, who participated in the study testing Aimovig, previously had up to 27 migraine days a month.
Since then trial ended in January, Ms Overlock has had only two headaches, with neither being severe enough to require medication.
Speaking of her experience, Ms Overlock said: ‘It’s definitely life changing.’
How much will it cost?
Aimovig contains immune-cell proteins known as antibodies, which have to be grown in living cells in the lab and are therefore expensive to produce.
It is expected to cost $6,900 a year, leaving some doubting whether insurers will pay up and if patients will be able to afford it.
According to Dr David Rind, chief medical officer at Amgen, Aimovig is cost effective considering the impact it will have on severe migraine sufferers’ quality of life when no other treatments have worked.
Hair transplants may cure migraines
This comes after research released lat January suggested hair transplants cure migraines.
The cosmetic procedure prevents headaches in people who have suffered crippling pain for up to 20 years, a study found.
After undergoing hair transplants, migraine sufferers who experienced agonising discomfort for up to four hours, several times a month, no longer require any pain-relieving medication, the research adds.
It is unclear how hair transplants prevent migraines, however, it may be linked to the surgery destroying nerve endings in the scalp, reducing signals that trigger such pain.
Lead researcher Dr Safvet Ors, from the SO-EP Aesthetic & Plastic Surgery Clinic, Turkey, said: ‘The post-operative improvement in each patient was dramatic.
‘As a result of this study, hair plantation in bald migraine patients may be an alternative to migraine treatment,’ The Sun reported.
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