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FDA Approves Aimovig for Migraines, But Can They Really Be Prevented?

migraine, headacheMigraines can be downright debilitating, and there is rarely anything you can do to eliminate them once they start. However, researchers have been working on developing a drug that reduces the frequency of migraines for regular sufferers. Now, their end-product has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Howard, 2018).

Aimovig is now on its way to becoming a mainstream treatment for adults who suffer from episodic or chronic migraines. An episodic migraine is when symptoms occur up to 14 days each month. Chronic migraine is when they occur 15 days or more a month.

Aimovig now holds the title of the first FDA-approved preventative migraine treatment in a new class of drugs that work by blocking the activity of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is thought to play a critical role in migraine attacks, and Aimovig works by targeting the molecule’s receptor within the body.

“When CGRP is released, outside of the brain, it causes inflammation and blood vessel dilation — the blood vessels get big — and that combination of inflammation and blood vessels getting big is the pain of migraine,” said Dr. Stewart Tepper, director of the Dartmouth Headache Center at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, who was a clinical investigator in the Aimovig trials.

He added that while Aimovig is not an end-all, be-all solution to migraines, it may dramatically improve the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine attacks.

Once the treatment becomes widely available, it will likely cost about $575 monthly within the U.S.

Migraine Prevention

We’ve all heard of the types of treatments for migraines once they start – low lighting, reduced noise and pain relievers – but is there a way to prevent migraines from occurring?

Some doctors believe that prescription medications can be used to reduce the odds of developing migraines on a frequent basis (“Preventive Treatments,” 2018). Blood pressure medications, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and serotonin antagonists are all options that your doctor may consider if you are a frequent migraine sufferer. However, all of these medications have their own side effects, ranging from weight gain to decreased libido.

For this reason, your doctor may want to discuss all of your nonpharmacological options with you before prescribing a medication. Ultimately, however, the final choice is up to you. In the end, it may be a drug like Aimovig that improves your quality of life.

References

Howard, Jacqueline. “FDA approves first drug created to prevent chronic migraines.” CNN. Retrieved May 29, 2018, from http://www.wmur.com/article/fda-approves-first-drug-created-to-prevent-chronic-migraines/20747746.

“Preventive Treatments.” American Migraine Foundation. Retrieved May 29, 2018, from https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/preventive-treatments/.

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