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Hope for over 150,000 migraine sufferers as the NHS approves a new wonder drug

Hope for over 150,000 migraine sufferers as the NHS approves a new wonder drug

  • The drug epitinezumab has been approved for use by the NHS for 164,000 adults
  • Patients using it have already had 3 preventive migraine treatments that have failed
  • This medication is given in the hospital as an intravenous drip every 12 weeks

A new drug will change the lives of thousands of migraine sufferers after being approved for use by the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends epinezumab for approximately 164,000 adults who have failed at least three previous preventive treatments.

The drug, given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in the hospital, has been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.

The watchdog suggests that epinezumab be prescribed for people who suffer from severe migraines or who may not be able to take other preventive jabs.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends epinezumab for approximately 164,000 adults who have failed at least three previous preventive treatments

The drug has proven to be as effective as three others already approved for home injection: erenumab, fremanezumab and galcanezumab.

All four drugs are calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors, which work by targeting how proteins cause blood vessels in the brain to swell.

During a migraine attack, the blood vessels on the surface of the brain dilate, releasing inflammatory chemical messengers that cause pain.

The new class of treatment is believed to work by blocking the CGRP chemical called CGRP, which prevents blood vessels from widening.

Migraines are common, affecting about one in five women and about one in 15 men, usually starting in early adulthood.

In addition to a throbbing headache, many people have other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to light or sound.

Painkillers often have little effect during an attack, and even when they work, patients may have attacks so often that preventive treatment is necessary.

Studies showed that patients treated with epitin zumab experienced a significant reduction in headache severity and frequency each month.

The treatment costs around £5,870 a year, although the Lundbeck pharmaceutical company has agreed to provide it to the NHS at a discounted price.

Rob Music, chief executive at the Migraine Trust, said it was ‘great news’ that there is another treatment option for people with severe migraines, but added that it is vital that those who qualify have access to it to have.

The drug, given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in the hospital, has been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks (file photo)

The drug, given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in the hospital, has been shown to reduce both the frequency and severity of migraine attacks (file photo)

‘This new class of drugs has changed the lives of many people with migraines in the UK.

“It has enabled many to do things that migraines prevented them from being able to work full time to being able to enjoy travelling.

“Unfortunately, too many people whose lives are currently severely impacted by migraine who qualify for these treatments do not have access to them.

“At the beginning of 2023, we hope that integrated care systems will do more to ensure greater access to this potentially life-changing treatment.”

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