The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted a licence for the use of a new migraine prevention treatment Aimovig® (erenumab). It has been approved for prophylaxis of migraine in adults who have 4 or more migraine days per month.
Aimovig®, a first-of-its-kind treatment specifically designed for migraine prevention, works by blocking the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRP-R) that is known to be one of the neurochemicals involved in the transmission of migraine pain signals. It has been licensed in the USA since May, in Australia since July and is now licensed to be used in Europe.
The other preventive therapies which are currently in use are used primarily for other conditions with migraine prevention being a secondary use. Patients often stop them due to side effects or because they have not helped.
Aimovig®’s clinic trials in both episodic and chronic migraineurs have demonstrated a significant reduction in monthly migraine days. Patients on Aimovig® (erenumab) in clinical trials reported consistent and sustained migraine prevention, with many experiencing a 50% or more reduction in monthly migraine days. Its safety and tolerability were similar to placebo meaning that side effects are low. The most common side effects reported in the clinical program to date have been viral upper respiratory tract infection, upper respiratory tract infection, sinusitis, influenza, and back pain.
This is potentially very good news for many who suffer from migraines. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are yet to make any recommendations on its use within the NHS and will base their recommendations in due course on cost-effectiveness and evidence from data about its benefits.
Aimovig is an injection. It can be self-administered or administered by another trained person every four weeks with the SureClick® autoinjector pen, an established device commonly used for a range of different conditions. We have no information yet about the cost of this treatment. It is not licensed for children or pregnant women. It is primarily a treatment for the pain of migraine rather than the aura. As it begins to be used, more data will be collected as to its efficacy and tolerability.
National Migraine Centre welcomes this news and have been working closely with Novartis to help the migraine community. Dr David Bloomfield CEO of National Migraine Centre said that: “This is potentially a pivotal moment in the history of migraine treatment and we look forward to the opportunity of adding Aimovig® to our treatment options.”
Migraine affects 1 in 7 in the UK. It is one of the top six causes of years lost due to disability according to the World Health Organisation and is more common than diabetes or epilepsy. Migraine is the third leading cause of disability in people under 50. Interest in the migraine community has been high ever since Novartis made their first press release about the drug last year.
National Migraine Centre has treated tens thousands of thousands of patients over the last 38 years and recognises the misery caused by migraine. We hope this drug launches a new era in the history of effective migraine management. We would also encourage a holistic approach to reducing migraine by putting in place lifestyle strategies known to benefit migraineurs such as not leaving too long between meals, staying well hydrated ,having enough, good quality hours of sleep, minimising stress and taking frequent regular exercise.