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Several New Medications in the Pipeline to Prevent Migraine

MONDAY, June 12, 2017 -- A host of new medications that appear to prevent migraine headaches are in the final stages of testing and approval in the United States, according to a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Headache Society, held from June 8 to 11 in Boston.

The new injectable drugs work by targeting calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). One, erenumab, works by blocking the receptor CGRP acts on, while other drugs (fremanezumab by Teva; eptinezumab from Alder Biopharmaceuticals; and galcanezumab from Eli Lilly and Co.) work by blocking CGRP itself.

In one phase 3 trial funded by Amgen, nearly 1,000 patients with episodic migraine were randomly assigned to one of two doses of erenumab or placebo for six months. Half the patients receiving monthly injections of the higher dose of erenumab experienced a 50 percent reduction in number of migraines, Peter Goadsby, M.D., Ph.D., a professor of neurology at King's College London and the University of California, San Francisco, told HealthDay. In separate phase 2 trials testing erenumab's safety in chronic migraine patients, the medication was also tied to fewer attacks.

For the other three medications, researchers reported results of phase 2 trials that tested the drugs' safety. In each case, patients reported more headache-free days. Side effects, such as changes in blood pressure or potential liver damage, were found not to be a problem, researchers said. In addition, the drugs started working the first week of treatment. In some cases, patients were also able to cut back their other medications.

Funding from drug manufacturers was disclosed.

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Posted: June 2017

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