'This Is Huge' FDA Drug Approval Could Revolutionize Migrane Treatment for Millions

By Sundaram, Arya | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA), May 29, 2018 | Go to article overview

'This Is Huge' FDA Drug Approval Could Revolutionize Migrane Treatment for Millions


Sundaram, Arya, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)


Every week for the past two years, Melissa Henthorn has driven an hour to West Penn Hospital in Bloomfield to receive 20 injections in her head and neck. Until now, it was the only way to keep the headache pain away. But soon, she's hoping that won't be necessary.

This week, she'll receive a prescription for Aimovig, the first drug designed to prevent a migraine - an often debilitating condition that affects 38 million people in the U.S. Created by the pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Amgen, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this month.

Since she was 7, Ms. Henthorn, 44, of Slippery Rock, has sought treatment for her severe chronic migraines.

"We've never had something like this before," said Dolores Santamaria, director of the Allegheny Health Network Headache Center, holding the new drug in her hands. "We're making history right now."

For Ms. Henthorn, a stay-at-home mom, dealing with migraines has been a tumultuous journey. She's seen a "truckful" of neurologists and tried dozens of medications. A few years ago, she even had to visit the hospital. After a bad migraine attack, she rushed home, and soon her eyesight began to flicker. One side of her body began to droop, so her husband had to carry her. The ER doctors thought she had a stroke.

"You feel like your head is on one side of your body, and you're on the other," she said.

For now, Ms. Henthorn's treatment of 20 weekly nerve block injections has reduced her migraines to a few times a week. She also receives two other injections and two pills.

Aimovig, also administered by injection, will likely reduce the frequency even more, and she may not need additional medication. Instead of weekly doctor visits, she'd be able to self-administer the drug, with potentially just one appointment per year. Results from the clinical trials demonstrate a reduction rate of about 50 percent, but a few "super responders" have seen further reductions. Some patients became nearly migraine-free.

"I can't even conceptualize what's it like to not be in constant pain," said Kelly Lynn Thomas, a patient at UPMC. "So, the possibility of having time where I'm not in any pain is mind-blowing."

For years, Ms. Thomas, 31, of Spring Hill-City View, has written a blog, "The Adventures of Miss Migraine." The most recent post features the new drug. "Guys. This is huge," she begins.

In the same blog post, she documented her treatment history - eight different drugs with a slew of unwanted symptoms. Dry mouth, weight gain, insomnia, anxiety, sexual dysfunction, heart palpitations, and the list goes on.

Nationally, 85 percent of migraine patients stop taking medication within a year due to the side effects. But with Aimovig, researchers have documented only one minor side effect, irritation surrounding the injection area.

Many of the current drugs used by Ms. Thomas and Ms. Henthorn were not created with migraine patients in mind. They've taken pills that were intended to be antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs. Botox was another possibility.

"Just the fact that someone designed a drug to treat migraines is huge," Ms. Thomas said.

The first wave of migraine-specific medication was introduced in the '90s, with a class of drugs called triptans. However, triptans are only an abortive medication - ones that halt migraines after they've begun, but don't help with prevention.

Aimovig is a new class of drug, a "monoclonal antibody" that targets a specific compound of amino acids, known as a peptide, that's associated with migraines.

The release of Aimovig to the market begins a "second wave" of migraine-specific medication, said Robert Kaniecki, director of UPMC's Headache Center.

UPMC's Headache Center is one of the busiest in the country, treating about 1,200 patients per month and mostly migraine sufferers, said Dr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'This Is Huge' FDA Drug Approval Could Revolutionize Migrane Treatment for Millions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.