Finally! Preventive Migraine Medication Has Arrived

The FDA has approved a novel migraine prevention drug that health experts say could revolutionize migraine treatment after years of little progress.

Known to the market as Aimovig,  the drug is designed to reduce the number of days that adults who suffer what are known as episodic migraines — those that occur between zero and 15 days out of a given month — and chronic migraines — 15 or more headaches per month — suffer.

Until now, people who suffer migraines have been forced to rely on medications that are used to treat other illnesses, for example drugs that treat high blood pressure. They do not treat migraines directly but instead try to use a sympathetic approach to reduce the symptoms of migraines.

These kinds of treatments work, at best, only in some circumstances and may come with a raft of often severe side-effects.

Aimovig, which is self-administered via a monthly injection, works by stopping a particular molecule–calcitonin gene-related peptide or CGRP–from being able meet with its respective receptors. It is part of a new platform of treatments that target CGRP and aim at reducing blood vessel dilation and inflammation, the two key triggers for migraines.

In contrast to current migraine treatments, the side-effects for Aimovig were observed to be relatively mild. Most if not all side-effects were manageable.

In clinical trials involving over 2,000 patients, the FDA’s researchers observed that Aimovig could reduce migraines by one to two and a half days with minor side-effects, such as constipation or localized reactions around injection sites for some patients.

What’s the big deal?

The reduction of migraines by one to two days might sound modest, but it is important to recognize just how debilitating migraines can be.

Migraines are known as a primary headache disorder. They occur in bouts on a monthly basis and are characterized by a pounding headache that tends to affect one half of the head and can last anywhere from a couple of hours up to three days.

Other migraine symptoms may include sensory sensitivity, particularly to lights and sounds, as well as nausea, vomiting and visual “auras” that disrupt vision.

At their worst, migraines can be so debilitating that even getting out of bed is a challenge, and sufferers of the severe condition may find they are unable to work, leave the house or carry out more than basic activity.

As a result, being able to reduce migraines by even a couple of days could mean a significant boost in welfare for sufferers, and that is why Aimovig is such an exciting prospect on the treatment market.

“Aimovig provides patients with a novel option for reducing the number of days with migraine,” Eric Bastings, M.D., deputy director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, aid in an FDA press release. “We need new treatments for this painful and often debilitating condition.”

But what about the price?

The FDA has granted the drug company Amgen Inc. a license for Aimovig. According to CNN, the market price is expected at $575 monthly or $6,900 per year for US residents.

That might sound steep, and indeed it is a considerable sum, but it is significantly less than it was expected to hit the market for, with some analysts predicting a $10,000 price tag due to it being the first of its kind to hit the market and demand being high.

What is critical, though, is that drug companies do not  exploit this new CGRP treatment model to bilk money from consumers as they have done with other novel treatments for particular diseases, like HIV medication. Congress is still scrutinizing drug company behavior, but this has precipitated in little change in the market to date.

While Amgen Inc. has been criticized  for setting initial costs high in the past, it has said that use of rebates could dramatically slash the price of Aimovig for consumers and that negotiations with health insurers could see the company pick up most of the out-of-pocket costs. Exactly how this will play for patients remains to be seen.

All that acknowledged, this first-of-its-kind CGRP treatment is exciting and, for migraine sufferers, a much needed relief.

Related at Care2

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

34 comments

Cindy S
Cindy Smith4 months ago

I can't afford it, I would be homeless

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Leanne K
Leanne K4 months ago

Fifteen or more migraines a month, yes you would pay anything if it helped. That is good news.

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Patty L
Patty Langford4 months ago

tyfs

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Patty L
Patty Langford4 months ago

with trumpcare, insurance companies want me to pay $1300per month for the lowest kind of coverage. I will stick w the generic sumatriptan tabs, my pharmacy fills 30 for $39.. tyfs

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Winn A
Winn Adams4 months ago

Thanks

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Sheila Miller
Sheila Miller4 months ago

The cost of trying to stay healthy can cause a migraine. Prescription prices and medical fees are ridiculous! Thanks for the article.

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Christine K
Christine K4 months ago

Nettle tea, aspirin and Mt Dew, or kava worked for me. Until I hit the back of my head and caused a whole other issue with the side effect of no more migraines! XD

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Anne Moran
Anne Moran4 months ago

$575.00 a month,, is sure to increase one's migraine,, if you know what I mean... - I had migraines for about 10 years,, they started with menopause... - Anyway,, about a year ago, I woke up with a pinched nerve in the neck/spine.. - I was in so much pain, as nerve pain is the worst.. - The doctor prescribed Lyrica for it, and while it took the nerve pain away,, it also took the migraines away.. - Have not had a migraine in a year, so this drug has helped me two-fold.. - Did tell the doctor about it, and he was very surprised, said he would check into it, and maybe prescribe it to his patients who have tried everything else, but with no luck... - I had several migraines a month,, now,, absolutely nothing thanks to Lyrica... - They cost $33.00 a month, which is a drop in the bucket compared to $575.00. - Highway robbery !!

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Sandra V
Sandra V4 months ago

Thanks

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Sandra V
Sandra V4 months ago

Thanks

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