December 15th, 2017

To Your Health: New drug could cut migraine attacks in half

By Gillian Slade on December 4, 2017.

One injection a month could drastically change the lives of people who suffer with migraines.

Trials revealed the drug called Erenumab can prevent about 50 per cent of migraines in people who have had little relief from others drugs and it is preventative rather than addressing the symptoms.

UK scientists have been working on Erenumab for the past 30 years and it could be available as a treatment in the UK next year.

Migraine pain can be totally debilitating accompanied by nausea and vomiting. They can last hours or days. Migraines are considered the sixth most common disability and holding down a job for many is simply impossible.

About 25 years ago a new range of drugs (Triptans), that do not include a narcotic, was life changing for many. They address the symptoms though and still there have been some people who could not get relief.

Erenumab is unique in that it is a preventative treatment, addressing the protein (calcitonin gene-related peptide) that triggers the pain and nausea.

Professor Peter Goadsby of King’s College London, identified the role calcitonin gene-related peptide played in migraines about 30 years ago.

A study that included 955 patients who were either given a placebo or Erenumab every month for six months, has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine. At the start of the study patients were having an average of 8.3 migraine days a month. After four months those who had been given Erenumab were reporting a reduction of 3.7 days of migraines a month. For those on the placebo there was only a reduction of 1.8 days. There were very few side effects reported.

Numerous drug companies are working on versions but Erenumab already has its final phase III results published and has submitted its results to the European Medicines Agency and the FDA in the U.S.

Novartis and Amgen will co-commercialize AMG 334 (Erenumab) in the U.S. Novartis will retain exclusive rights to commercialize the drug in the rest of the world and will gain commercialization rights in Canada, according to the website for Novartis.

There is no word yet on what the cost will be and when it will be widely available. For about half a million people, for whom nothing else has worked, it could be life changing.

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1705848

http://www.novartis.com/news/media-releases/novartis-expands-global-collaboration-amgen-commercialize-first-class-amg-334

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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