The monthly jab – which should be on the market next year – is being hailed ‘the start of real change’ for the millions of people who suffer severe migraine attacks lasting up to 72 hours.
Erenumab is the catchy name for this revolutionary self-injection , which scientist in the UK have been working on over the last three decades.
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Study leader Professor Peter Goadsby of King’s College London, who first highlighted the role of CGRP in migraines in 1985, said:
This is an incredibly important step forward.
It’s the real deal – next year the NHS will be looking at whether to make this available.
At the moment people who suffer with migraines are stuck between a rock and a hard place. But they can stop losing hope, because hope is just around the corner.
Erenumab is a laboratory-made antibody which blocks a neural brain pathway called CGRP.
Phase three of the trial showed that for the nearly 1,000 patients tested, the injections cut between threee and four ‘migraine days’ per month, and in half the patients, migraine duration was reduced by at least half.
The study included 955 patients, divided into three groups: the first received 70 mg of erenumab, the second got a 140 mg dose, and the last were given a placebo. Both dosages seemed to work. The study reports that 43.3% of the 70-mg group and 50% of of 140-mg erenumab group saw their monthly migraines drop about 50%.
People often trivialise migraines by confusing them with a common headache. Migraines are very different however and are characterised by an intense throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea, vomiting, low energy, and visual disturbances.
Simon Evans, chief executive of the charity Migraine Action, said to the Guardian:
Migraine is too often trivialised as just a headache when, in reality, it can be a debilitating, chronic condition that can destroy lives. The effects can last for hours, even days in many cases.
An option that can prevent migraine and that is well tolerated is therefore sorely needed, and we hope that this marks the start of real change in how this condition is treated and perceived.
The findings, reported in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, clearly showed that blocking the CGRP pathway could reduce the impact of migraines.
Each year over 8.5 million people in the UK are thought to experience migraines, making its impact greater than the number affected by asthma, diabetes and epilepsy combined.
The condition causes many people to take sick days from work because of how debilitating it can be, and is thought to cost the economy more than £2 billion every year.
The drug is set to be assessed by NHS watchdog NICE in May next year, and will hopefully be rolled out to half a million of the worst affected patients.