It’s estimated that around 10% of the world’s population are affected by migraines, and an estimated 12% of people in the US suffer from regular migraines. Some of the current treatments available include painkillers, triptans and anti-emetics; however, a new drug that has recently been approved by the FDA could change the way that migraines are treated in the future. The drug, Aimovig, has shown to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of migraine attacks in patients.
What is Aimovig?
Aimovig is the first drug to be approved by the FDA that works by blocking the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). This targets the molecules receptor in the body, and research has shown that this can be used to effectively prevent both episodic and chronic migraines in patients. The treatment is administered through monthly injections, and is expected to cost around $550 a month.
Dr. Stewart Tepper, director of the Dartmouth Headache Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire and professor of neurology at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College., who was a clinical investigator in the Aimovig trials said: “When CGRP is released, outside of the brain, it causes inflammation and blood vessel dilation — the blood vessels get big — and that combination of inflammation and blood vessels getting big is the pain of migraine.”
How effective is Aimovig?
In three key clinical trials carried out before the drugs approval, Aimovig was found to reduce the number of migraines in patients by an average of two fewer episodes per month. “It may not get rid of all of them, but it really dramatically improves the frequency, severity and duration of the migraine attacks,” said Tepper. He added that patients will still “need to take something when they get a migraine attack, but this is the first designer medication to prevent migraine rather than treat as needed.”
Dr. Teshamae Monteith, assistant professor of clinical neurology at the University of Miami and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, who was not involved in the development of the drug said: “The field is excited about a new drug that is specifically targeted for migraine mechanisms. Not only does the data show that it’s effective for people who have what we call episodic migraine, but it’s also effective for people who have chronic migraine. If you can imagine, a patient with chronic migraine has at least 15 days — half the month — with some type of headache, and eight days out of that month, it’s what you would call a moderate to severe headache with associated symptoms, such as light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, some cognitive dysfunction, [gastrointestinal] symptoms and sometimes visual and motor symptoms Patients can have fatigue, concentration impairment, neck stiffness and sometimes mood changes as well.”