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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.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  • American Headache Society. (2016). Clinical Data Presented at American Headache Society Meeting Shows Promise of New Treatments for Migraine Prevention [Press release]. Retrieved June 17, 2016 from https://americanheadachesociety.org/news/migraine-and-inflammation-linked-in-young-adults/.
  • Dodick D.W., Goadsby P.J., Spierings E.L.H., Scherer J.C., Sweeney S.P., Grayzel D.S. (2016). Promising New Science. American Migraine Foundation website. Retrieved July 14, 2016 from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/find-a-doctortreatment/treatment/promising-new-science/.

Comments

  • 26najch
    3 years ago

    Migraines website response about ingredients
    Your recent email mentioned promising new drugs. The article wasn’t clear to me about peptides. Are they targeting them or adding them?
    Pharma manufacturers have been adding peptides to a number of new drugs. Those of us who are allergic to dairy, eggs, and latex can have a reaction to proteins. Those allergic to latex can react to LTP, lipid transfer proteins. Peptides are everywhere. Try and find a drug for osteoporosis without peptides.
    Why does the pharmaceutical industry continue to develop medicine for migraine sufferers that contain ingredients that are the worst allergens such as wheat (gluten) and lactose? I wonder if they understand the health issues that they pretend to help.
    Lactose is in most generics and brands, too. One of your recent writers complained their insurance provider would only pay for 9 migraines pills per month due to the unreal cost. Try and find a generic that is gluten-free and lactose-free. There is a generic tryptan that is about $18/9 pills instead of $270. It’s lactose-free but they don’t test for gluten. If you are allergic to wheat, that’s not usable. I’m not going to take medicine that causes migraines in order to stop them.
    Why don’t the insurance companies go after the pharma companies instead of sufferers?
    Do you at Migraine.com have lobbyists? This message needs to be told!

  • Guineverre
    3 years ago

    I’m part of a clinical trial with Alder Pharmaceuticals right now, and it hasn’t worked for me. I’ll find out in October whether or not I received the medication, or a placebo. I’m hoping I got a placebo so that I can try the actual, promising medication.

  • SandraLee
    3 years ago

    Any chance the Rx will be approved in another country before the US? FDA is usually behind other countries in their approval process.

  • Soteria
    3 years ago

    Hi everyone. I am one of those currently in a trial for the anti-CGRP monoclonal antibody. It’s been a little over 5 months and I can tell you that this is working for me – where nothing else did. I’ve had migraines once or twice a month since age 5, but they really kicked in 8 years ago when I hit menopause. I rarely went 2 days without one, had nausea and vomiting bad enough to put me in the ER on numerous occasions, was on Immutrex which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t, the migraines were seldom less than 8 hours each and sometimes lasted for days, and the rest of the time was spent with the migraine ‘hangover’ that we all know well. No energy, fuzzy brain, always tired, etc. Mine were totally debilitating. Have been to over 15 doctors with no real relief and several telling me that I may just have to ‘learn to live with it’. I am going into such detail to give a comparison to where I am at now: the headaches have totally decreased in intensity and in frequency. Instead of 9s and 10s on the pain scale, they are rarely more than a 2 or 3, last for maybe 3 hours, and I have gone weeks without having one and basically feel like I have been given my life back. They are calling this ‘drug’ the silver bullet for migraines – there have been no noted side effects and my study nurse said he has not seen anyone in the study not achieve some kind of relief – many not getting ANY MORE headaches at all. I want to tell my fellow migraineurs that there is hope. My study is in the 3rd stage of clinical trials which means they are close to presenting to the FDA. I read that the other companies are as well. For me, it has been a miracle. I really thought my life was over as the migraines totally controlled it, and that has changed. I am now living my life again and the headaches (most don’t even qualify as real migraines) are now a footnote. Please, all of you who know firsthand what I have described, hang in there. This may be your miracle too.

  • SandraLee
    3 years ago

    Thank you for this report. It means a lot to me.

  • KatherineO
    3 years ago

    This is so exciting, and I am so happy for you. You have given me hope. I have chronic episodic migraine, June was an excruciating month with over 15 days of migraine — what I call my “personal best.” My doctor told me about these drugs being in trial. He also said they may cost thousands of dollars a year. Here’s hoping what you are taking gets approved quickly and is affordable enough.

  • DonnaFA moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Katherine! We’re so happy to hear that you find hope and community here! Thanks for being part of our community, and for sharing your thoughts.

    If participating in a clinical trial is something that interests you, we have a really comprehensive article, Patient Centered Clinical Trials that delves into the pros and cons, as well as how to find them.

    One of the problems, as you pointed out, is the cost of some prescription meds. You may be interested in reading Prescription Assistance Programs, as well as Saving Money on Migraine Treatments. These articles provide both pharmaceutical company sponsored PAPs, and non-profit PAPs as well.

    We’re always here to share information, and to listen. -All Best, Donna(Migraine.com team)

  • Still Smiling
    3 years ago

    If these drugs are still in trials, where are they with gaining FDA approval? It’s a long way from trials to market and not all of them will make it past trials or through FDA approval surely?

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    Still Smiling, More studies will need to be completed before they can receive FDA approval. The optimistic estimate is that they’ll be approved by the end of 2017. I expect 2018 is more realistic.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  • Luna
    3 years ago

    “A reduction in migraine days after three months”
    “reduced by 75% of up to a third of patients”
    “experienced improvements”
    It will be interesting to see how well these work in actuality and to know what the side effects or down side will be.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    Luna, yes, those are the questions we’re all eager to have answered. As I said in the title, they’re promising… but that doesn’t mean they’re a sure bet.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  • lorawil1
    3 years ago

    As someone who has them everyday with a day or two pain free days every so often, I’m always hoping they will come out with something to help. As it is I’m having to take a Sumatriptan every day because all the other mediations don’t work. But my biggest problem is the astronomical price. I can’t afford insurance so the price they put on these medications make it impossible to get.

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    lorawil1, the drugs will undoubtedly be expensive, but you may qualify for prescription assistance programs. Here are some Migraine.com articles on prescription assistance programs: https://migraine.com/offer-center/prescription-assistance-programs/ and https://migraine.com/blog/yippee-for-prescription-assistance-programs-or-free-drugs/. Depending on the drug, the company, and your income, you may be able to get medications at no charge. When the drugs are available, you can check for their assistance information at https://www.pparx.org/ or on the individual websites.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

  • etravel
    3 years ago

    Kerrie…thank you for the article…I have been reading up on these exciting new meds and their potential…it appears that there are clinical trials going on with the companies you mentioned and so I am wondering how long it will actually be before those new drugs are going to be available to the public? Hopefully on the horizon soon!

  • Kerrie Smyres moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hi etravel, the optimistic assessment is 2017, but I think 2018 is probably more realistic.

    Take care,
    Kerrie

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