Migraines, a common health issue that affects millions of people worldwide, are about to meet a formidable opponent. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK has recommended a new drug, Rimegepant, for preventing migraines. This groundbreaking treatment, also known as Vydura, is manufactured by Pfizer and is taken as a wafer that dissolves under the tongue.
It’s the first oral treatment for preventing migraines to be approved by NICE and is expected to benefit up to 145,000 adults who have at least four migraine attacks a month but fewer than 15, and where three previous treatments have failed.
The Impact of Migraines
Migraines are more than just a headache. They are a severe neurological condition characterized by intense, debilitating headaches, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. More than 5.6 million people in England are thought to have episodic migraines, and around 190,000 attacks are experienced every day.
Migraines can significantly affect a person’s quality of life. They can disrupt work, family life, social activities, and even mental health. The economic impact is also substantial, with many sufferers forced to take time off work during an attack.
Current Migraine Treatments and Their Limitations
Current treatments for migraines include beta-blockers, antidepressants, and epilepsy medicine. These treatments aim to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines and to alleviate the symptoms during an attack. However, these treatments can have significant side effects and can be ineffective for some people.
Injections are also used to try to solve migraines. These include Botox and a new class of drugs called CGRP inhibitors. However, these treatments are often expensive, require a visit to a healthcare provider, and can also have side effects.
How Rimegepant Works
Rimegepant represents a new approach to preventing migraines. It works by stopping the release of a protein around the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is involved in the transmission of pain and causes intense inflammation in the coverings of the brain (the meninges), which is responsible for the severe pain associated with migraine attacks.
Rimegepant is taken as a wafer which dissolves under the tongue, making it easy to take and fast-acting. It can be taken at the first sign of a migraine attack, potentially stopping the attack before it gets worse.
Reactions to the New Treatment
The introduction of Rimegepant has been met with a positive response from both healthcare professionals and patient advocacy groups. The Migraine Trust welcomed the new treatment but expressed disappointment that it had not also been approved for acute migraines.
Pfizer UK expressed commitment to improving the lives of those living with the burden of migraine and will continue to work with NICE and other health bodies in the UK to help further enhance access and care.
The approval of Rimegepant represents a significant advancement in the treatment of migraines. It offers hope to thousands of migraine sufferers who have not found relief with other treatments. However, it also highlights the need for continued research and development in this area. Migraines are a complex condition with a variety of triggers and symptoms, and no single migraine treatment.