In a couple of new studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, two new drugs, Erenumab and Fremanezumab, for migraine headaches have come up to their effectiveness in reducing the severity of the condition in people who have not responded to traditional therapies.
Migraine headaches affect thousands of Americans and millions worldwide. There are several traditional medications that are prescribed for migraines and for many of these do not work well.
Erenumab is one of the anti-migraine drugs that is developed jointly by Novartis and Amgen. Fremanezumab is developed by Teva Pharmaceuticals. Both drugs showed effectiveness in reducing the frequency and severity of the migraine headaches in nearly 50% of the study individuals.
The first study with Erenumab was a 6-month study where 40% of the participants were given a low-dose monthly injection of the test drug, while half of the patients received a high-dose monthly injection. Those who received the Erenumab injection reported that the frequency and severity of their migraine headaches were reduced by half.
The study reports that the frequency of migraines was around eight days per month before medication for the participants. Those on low dose Erenumab had a reduction of 3.2 days of migraine on average. Those on high doses had a migraine days reduction of 3.7 days.
In the second study, Fremanezumab was given both as a monthly injection and a quarterly injection to the patients. After the drug was administered, 41% of those who received the monthly injection showed a reduction of symptoms by half. Only 18% of those who received placebo showed a similar reduction in symptoms.
Among participants who received an injection every three months, 38% showed a half reduction of symptoms. Checking upon migraine headache days, from an average of 13 days a month in all participants, the reduction was 4 to 5 days in those who received fremanezumab injection.
Both these drugs act by mimicking the body's immune cells. These agents can bind to a protein within the body called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP is released when a person experiences a migraine pain. Blocking this protein could help reduce the severity and frequency of migrains speculate.
Dr. Peter Goadsby, professor of Neurology at University College London, explained that these drugs are not useful in all individuals. But they may be helpful in people who have failed to respond to other traditional anti-migraine medications. These could be targeting the migraine trigger he said and that is a novel mechanism of action.
Erenumab would be in the markets to prevent episodes of migraine in individuals who have less than 15 attacks a month. Fremanezumab would be used in people who have chronic migraines with 15 or more attacks a month. There are two similar drugs that are being developed by rival companies and these two would be on the shelves by next year.