A cure for migraines? New drug gets EU approval

NHS to consider offering preventative injections which cut migraine rate by half

migraine genetic

The first licensed drug proven to be effective in preventing migraines may soon be available in the UK, after EU regulators gave it the green light.

The European Medicines Agency has approved Erenumab, specifically designed to prevent the onset of migraines, opening the door for the treatment to be made available on the NHS.

“Even were it turned down by public health officials, the manufacturer Novartis has said that patients would be able to access the medicine privately from September,” Sky News reports. The drug, which can be injected by the patient at home, works by blocking a receptor in the brain which is believed to be involved in triggering migraines - “although scientists are not completely sure what causes the agonising headaches just yet”.

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In clinical trials, “one in four patients with chronic migraines - those experiencing symptoms 15 days or more a month - were migraine-free for more than 15 months,” The Scientist reports.

On average, Erenumab cut the number of days that volunteers experienced a migraine in a month by half.

Wendy Thomas, the chief executive of the Migraine Trust, said the decision to approve the drug for sale in the EU was “wonderful”.

“This new treatment has the potential to help many people with chronic and episodic migraine,” she said, a condition which “can literally ruin lives”.

A world survey of health conditions across 195 countries found that, “in every year from 1990 to 2016, migraine attacks remained the second-largest global contributor to years lived with disability”, writes journalist and migraine sufferer Lauren Sharkey for the BBC.

As well as causing misery for millions, migraines also come with an economic cost. In the UK alone, the extreme headaches are responsible for around 25 million sick days taken every year.

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