Migraine drug could halve the length of attacks, study shows

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"This therapeutic approach offers new hope for people whose migraines can not be treated with existing medicine", said Stephen D. Silberstein, professor of neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center.

The drugs are the first preventive medicines developed specifically for migraines.

Those receiving the drug reported migraines having a reduced impact on their everyday lives, being able to better complete activities such as getting ready for the day, doing household chores or activities requiring concentration. They work by interfering with a substance involved in modifying nerve signaling and progression of pain and symptoms.

Image    Migraines can last for up to 72 hours
Image Migraines can last for up to 72 hours

Each year more than 8.5 million people in the United Kingdom are thought to experience migraine - more than the number affected by asthma, diabetes and epilepsy combined.

Researchers from 132 sites across nine countries enrolled 1130 patients and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: one that received quarterly treatments, a group that received one treatment per month, and one that received placebo injections.

Vas Narasimhan, global head of drug development and chief medical officer for Novartis, said: "The results of the STRIVE study add to the evidence for the significant, consistent benefits of erenumab seen across the spectrum of chronic and episodic migraine, including patients who failed on previous preventive treatments". Migraines are severe headaches which have a disabling effect on the patient and can often cause vision problems, sensitivity to light, noise or smells, and nausea.

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One study tested erenumabfrom Amgen and Novartis, in about 900 people who averaged eight migraines a month.

Results from a phase III clinical trial of fremanezumab, an antibody therapy that counteracts a key inflammatory molecule in migraines, found a dramatic reduction in the number of days participating patients suffered from headaches.

The halving of migraine pain rate jumped to 50 percent for those on the 140mg dose, compared with 26.6 percent of the placebo patient collective. Only 18.1 percent of the placebo group, by comparison, had 50 percent reduction in moderate headaches per month.

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Monthly headache days dropped by four to five in the groups given the drug and by two to three for those given dummy treatments.

The study also finds long-term analysis of the safety of the drug is needed.

Marilynn Marchione is an Associated Press writer.

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