Does Ajovy cause weight gain?
Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Nov 3, 2020.
- Weight gain has not been reported as a side effect of Ajovy in clinical studies conducted by the manufacturer. Some anecdotal reports from patients and doctors do describe weight gain as a side effect with CGRP inhibitors.
- People with migraine headaches may experience weight gain or weight loss for a variety of reasons linked to the migraine condition itself. Migraine pain can be associated with nausea, vomiting and fatigue. Patients may lose their appetite, avoid physical activity, or have irregular eating patterns due to these symptoms.
- Obesity itself is linked with migraine and is thought to increase the risk of developing migraines. As obesity increases, so does the risk and severity of migraine headaches.
Ajovy (fremanezumab-vfrm) is a monoclonal antibody in the class of medicines known as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors. It helps to prevent migraine headaches by binding to the CGRP ligand to prevent receptor binding.
Ajovy, from Teva Pharmaceuticals, is used to help prevent migraine headache attacks in adults 18 years of age and older. It is not used to treat an acute migraine headache.
Which migraine drugs cause weight gain?
In clinical studies submitted to the FDA for approval of CGRP inhibitors, weight gain was not listed as a possible side effect and does not appear in product labels. Some anecdotal reports and surveys have suggested patients may see weight gain with CGRPs, especially Emgality (galcanezumab), but this may be due to other factors.
Other FDA-approved CGRP inhibitors for migraine prevention include:
- Aimovig (erenumab-aooe) from Amgen
- Emgality (galcanezumab) from Eli Lilly
- Vyepti (eptinezumab) from Lundbeck
Emgality is also approved to treat cluster headache episodes in adults.
Older medications used for migraine prevention (but originally were approved for other uses like high blood pressure, depression or seizures) are well-known to be linked with weight gain.
- For example, tricyclic antidepressants used to prevent migraine headache, like amitriptyline and doxepin, are also associated with weight gain. Duloxetine (Cymbalta), a serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant used off-label for migraine prevention, may lead to weight loss or less frequently weight gain.
- Medicines for heart conditions and high blood pressure, such as verapamil and beta blockers like metoprolol (Lopressor) or propranolol (Inderal) are also linked with weight gain.
- Valproate or gabapentin, medicines approved for epilepsy but also used for migraine prevention, may be associated with weight gain.
- Other anti-seizure medications used for migraine prevention may actually lead to weight loss and include topiramate, zonisamide and protriptyline.
Life-style modification can help to improve your headache status, and may include a plan of weight loss and increased activity. Work with your doctor to adjust your diet and lifestyle to encourage weight loss and greater activity, if needed. Always contact your healthcare provider for any side effects that concern you.
Weight gain has not been reported in clinical studies as a side effect with the migraine prevention medicine Ajovy. Some anecdotal reports do suggest CGRP inhibitors may cause weight gain.
Other factors related to migraine, such as lack of activity due to chronic headache pain or altered eating habits may play a role in weight gain.
Older medicines from different classes, such as amitriptyline, verapamil or valproate, can be linked with weight gain. Talk to your doctor about weight gain with migraine medicines if this is a concern for you.
This is not all the information you need to know about Ajovy for safe and effective use. Review the full product information here, and discuss this information with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Bigal ME, Tsang A, Loder E, et al. Body mass index and episodic headaches: a population-based study. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167(18):1964. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/413192
- Ajovy (fremanezumab-vfrm) [Product Label]. Teva Pharmaceuticals. North Wales, PA. Jan. 2020. Accessed Nov. 2, 2020. https://www.ajovy.com/globalassets/ajovy/ajovy-pi.pdf
- Bigal ME, Lipton RB. Obesity is a risk factor for transformed migraine but not chronic tension-type headache. Neurology. 2006;67(2):252. https://n.neurology.org/content/67/2/252
- Kisler L, Weissman-Fogel I, Coghill R, et al. Duloxetine is effective in prevention of episodic migraine: a placebo controlled double blind exploratory study. Presented at: the World Congress on Pain 2018; September 12-16; Boston, MA. Poster 64161. https://www.iaspworldcongressonpain.org/program/preliminary/
- Nearly 80% of People Taking New Migraine Prevention Drugs Report Improvement. Pain News Network. Accessed Nov. 3, 2020 at https://www.painnewsnetwork.org/stories/tag/Emgality
- Robbins L. CGRP Questions/Answers. Robbins Headache Clinic. http://chicagoheadacheclinic.com/cgrp-questions-answers/
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