Updates on Promising New Migraine Drugs

The migraine world has been abuzz lately about new drugs in development to prevent migraine attacks. These drugs, called monoclonal antibodies, target an amino acid called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide). CGRP plays an important role in migraine—a person’s CGRP levels are much higher during migraine attacks than between attacks and CGRP also transmitting pain.

The drugs getting most of the attention are used prophylactically to prevent migraine attacks from ever starting. Other drugs, called CGRP receptor antagonists, are also being tested for use as acute treatments to abort migraine attacks once they’ve already begun.

Here’s the latest research, which was presented at the American Headache Society conference in June. Results for all the drugs are quite promising.

Prophlactic Migraine Treatments (Preventives)

Galcanezumab/LY2951742 (Eli Lilly and Company)

Different doses of the drug were tested for efficacy in the latest study of this anti-CGRP monoclonal antibody. Once a month for three months, patients received an injection. They reported their number of migraine days before the study and after three months of injections. Patients who were given 120 mg or 300 mg of the drug (the two highest doses used in the study) had a reduction in migraine days after three months of receive the drug.

ALD403(Alder BioPharmaceuticals)

In this study of people with chronic migraine, just one dose of this drug acted quickly to prevent migraine attacks for up to twelve weeks. Migraine frequency was reduced by 75% of up to a third of patients for the three-month study—that’s at least 12 fewer migraine days each month for those participants. An executive at the company said it’s like giving patients almost two weeks of their lives back after a single injection of the drug.

TEV-48125 (Teva Pharmaceuticals)

Even on pain-free days, a wide range of other symptoms contribute to the overall disability that migraine causes. Researchers were curious if this drug could treat non-pain symptoms of migraine. Participants, which included people with episodic migraine and those with chronic migraine), experienced improvements such as:

  • No difficulty concentrating
  • Not feeling tired, drained, or sleepy
  • Not taking longer to complete tasks and not working at a slower speed
  • Being able to work or study at normal levels
  • Performing household activities normally
  • Being very engaged with their partners or children
  • Being very interested in daily activities

Acute Migraine Treatments (Abortives)

Ubrogepant

Participants were instructed to use ubrogepant to attempt to abort one migraine attack. Some were given the active drug and others were given a placebo. Within two hours, those who took the active drug had migraine severity reduced from severe or moderate to mild or nonexistent. The drug does not have any known risk for cardiovascular effects. That makes it a possible treatment for people who can’t take current medications due to cardiovascular disease.

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