Having a throbbing or pulsing headache can ruin anyone’s day. While most headaches can be remedied with the use of an over-the-counter medicine like aspirin, migraine headaches are much more significant. While there are medications to help relieve a migraine, none of them were designed for that purpose. Most treatment is geared toward preventing the onset of migraine headaches.
However, this is about to change. For the first time, a new medication called Erenumab claims to prevent migraine headaches and it’s in the final stages of testing and approval in the United States. This will be the first drug approved for the treatment of migraines.
A debilitating headache
Migraine attacks can cause significant pain lasting hours or even days. This can be severely debilitating for suffers. Pain is usually located on one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extremely sensitivity to light and sound.
It is currently estimated that migraines affect nearly 36 million men, women, and children in the United States alone.
Treatment currently consists of pain relievers, triptans, and ergotamines, which relieve the pain to some degree. Additional medication to remedy the feeling of nausea may also be taken.
Preventative therapy is of value to chronic migraine suffers. It aims to reduce the frequency, severity, and length of migraines. This may come in the form of beta blockers, antidepressants, or even anti-seizer drugs. These treatments are essentially repurposed from their original use.
All of these therapies work by augmenting the symptoms of a migraine to make them more tolerable—they don’t cure the migraine itself.
Works on the direct mechanism of migraines
This new medication being developed works by blocking a migraine-related protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) or the receptor it acts on. This peptide is a small molecule that is released from pain nerves in the head and it’s thought to be a key part of the migraine process.
Studies involving the new migraine drug found that 50 percent of migraine patients tested found a reduction in their symptoms, leading to an increased quality of life. The medication was also well tolerated, and it lacked many of the side effects that currently used treatment methods for migraines have.
“It’s very exciting. It’s been a long time in coming,” said Dr. Noah Rosen, director of Northwell Health’s Headache Center in Great Neck, N.Y.
The creators of the new medication hope to get FDA approval and release it by mid-2018.