New self-injected drug to ease migraine pain

19 April 2018 08:20

Each day, an estimated 200,000 people in the UK experience a migraine attack

Each day, an estimated 200,000 people in the UK experience a migraine attack

A self-injected smart drug may be the key to easing and preventing pain for migraine sufferers.

Trial results show that the antibody drug erenumab can cut episodic migraine attacks by more than half, in a large proportion of cases.

New hope for sufferers

The drug, administered with a self-injection device like those used by diabetics, was tested on patients who had failed to respond to up to four other treatments.

Trial leader Dr Uwe Reuter said: "The people we included in our study were considered more difficult to treat, meaning that up to four other preventative treatments hadn't worked for them.

"Our study found that erenumab reduced the average number of monthly migraine headaches by more than 50% for nearly a third of study participants.

"That reduction in migraine headache frequency can greatly improve a person's quality of life."

Migraines are a neurological disorder marked by headaches that range in severity from moderate to blindingly painful.

Each day, an estimated 200,000 people in the UK experience a migraine attack. Other symptoms include nausea and light sensitivity. Sufferers are often prevented from going to work and participating in daily activities.

Not licensed in UK

People affected by episodic migraine may have up to 14 headache days a month.

For this trial, 246 migraine sufferers were given injections of erenumab or a placebo drug once per month for three months.

Of the participants, 39% had been treated unsuccessfully with two other medications, 38% with three medications and 23% with four medications.

Dr Mark Toms, Chief Scientific Officer at Novartis UK, said: "There has been no real advancement in migraine treatment for the past 20 years and we're proud to be breaking new ground in neurology for the millions of people in the UK living with the painful and disruptive symptoms of migraine."

The drug works by targeting and blocking a pain-signalling molecule in the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting taking place in Los Angeles from April 21 to 27.

Erenumab is not yet licensed for use in the UK.

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