The FDA Just Approved a New Treatment For a Condition That Affects 38 Million People

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Updated Post: May 18, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new preventative treatment for migraines, a condition that affects 38 million Americans. The drug, which is called Aimovig and generically known as erenumab-aooe, is a monthly injection that works much like an insulin pen and is expected to cost consumers $6,900 a year. 

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Here’s how it works: The injection uses antibodies to target a headache-inducing peptide called calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) in the blood. A study of the new drug found that the injection reduced the number of migraines per month from eight to fewer than five in participants who received the treatment, NPR reports. The placebo shots also reduced the number of migraines in patients, however the results were not to the same extent that those with the actual drug experienced. 

Although this is the first injection to be approved to treat migraines, there are also a variety of migraine treatments currently being reviewed by the FDA, most notably fremanezumab which we previously reported on.  News regarding the approval of other migraine-treating drugs should be coming soon, so we’ll be sure to update once we know more. 

Original Post: December 3, 2017

If you’re someone who suffers from migraines, we have some good news. Two studies found two different types of drugs that can limit the severity and amount of headaches by up to 50 percent in some people.

One study tested the effectiveness of the drug erenumab. Before the study, participants reported getting migraines eight days a month on average. During a 6-month trial, researchers found 46 percent of people given a low-dose of a monthly injection reported their migraine frequency decreased by about half – 3.2 days a month to be exact. And fifty percent of people given a high-dose reported a decrease to about 3.7 days. While only 27 percent of people given the placebo reported a reduction to 1.8 days.

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The other study tested the drug fremanezumab both on a monthly and quarterly basis. After a three-month period, 41 percent of people who were given the drug once a month said their headaches reduced by half while only 18 percent of those given the placebo reported the same results.

Another group received the drug injection just once in those three months and 38 percent reported frequency reduction by half.

These studies are further proof that antibody therapies aren’t successful on everyone, yet the overall success of the drugs is promising. In an editorial by Dr. Andrew Hershey published alongside the studies, he notes that the quick improvements shown by the participants suggests that doctors and patients will be able to decide quickly whether a treatment is working or not.

Dr. Hershey also points out that in both trials, a number of people became completely headache free. With few side effects reported, the main complaint seemed to be the pain and irritation during injection.

However, Dr. Hershey believes more research needs to be done to see if certain people respond differently to the drugs and whether one works better than the other. He also believes cost of these drugs once they hit the market will prevent people from reaping their benefits. “Many patients will probably still have a response to standard multidisciplinary treatment that is less costly in patient and provider time and dollars,” Hershey wrote.

Still, the research looks promising as both drugs have submitted approval with the Food and Drug Administration with hopes to bring them to the market in 2018.

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