In what’s been hailed as a breakthrough in the treatment of migraine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug specifically designed to prevent painful migraine headaches.
The medication, called erenumab (brand name Aimovig), was developed by the pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Novartis. It works by targeting and blocking the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRP-R) and is administered once a month by self-injection using an autoinjector with a hidden needle. According to Eric Bastings, MD, deputy director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, erenumab “provides patients with a novel option for reducing the number of days with migraine. We need new treatments for this painful and often debilitating condition.”
The FDA approval was based on the positive results of several clinical trials. One of them, the LIBERTY trial, studied 246 migraine patients and found that nearly one-third of those treated with monthly injections of erenumab achieved a 50 percent or greater reduction in what are known as average monthly migraine days (MMDs). Two other trials supported the safety of the medication. Erenumab has now been studied on more than 3,000 patients.
Research into the way CGRP plays a key role in the development of migraine has been ongoing, and other pharmaceutical firms are developing CGRP-blocking medications similar to erenumab.
Want to learn more about migraines? Read “Tension Headache or Migraine: How to Tell the Difference” and “Chronic Migraines: Why Attitude Makes a Difference,” then try your hand at at the quiz “What Triggers Migraines?”