FDA Approves Potential Migraine Game-Changer

Monthly injection reduces migraine frequency without major side effects
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2018 8:56 AM CDT
FDA Approves Potential Migraine Game-Changer
An artist's rendering of the packaging for the drug Aimovig, the first in a new class of long-acting drugs designed to prevent chronic migraines.   (Amgen Inc. via AP)

"Progress, but not a panacea." So proclaims an editorial in journal JAMA on Aimovig, a first-of-its-kind drug purported to prevent chronic migraines without many side effects that was on Thursday approved by the FDA. The drug from Amgen and Novartis, and similar ones in their final stages, "shake the ground under our feet. They will change the way we treat migraine," a neurologist tells the New York Times. "The drugs will have a huge impact," another adds. At $575 per unit, the self-administered monthly injection known generically as erenumab doesn't eliminate migraines, but it can halve their frequency and cut their intensity by blocking the protein fragment responsible.

None of the patients in the trials bowed out due to side effects; constipation and reactions around the injection site were most common, per Reuters. Aimovig users experienced up to 2.5 fewer migraine days per month on average than placebo recipients in three separate trials, according to the FDA. Now forced to rely on drugs designed to treat other issues—Botox is prescribed for some—the roughly 3 million Americans who suffer chronic migraines could get their hands on the drug within a week, per the Times. Its price tag "reflects the value it brings to patients … while also factoring in critical issues such as patient affordability," Amgen says, per NBC News. Reuters reports the $6,900 annual cost is below the $10,000 estimated by some analysts. (Migraines may be linked to mouth bacteria.)

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