Last week saw the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of Aimovig. Aimovig (generically referred to as erenumab-aooe) is a novel approach to treating migraines. It boasts the ability to reduce the number of migraines experienced by those living with the condition. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story at NPR for further information.
The number of people in America affected by migraines is estimated to be in the millions. While migraines themselves are common, some variations such as hemiplegic migraines are rare. Many people diagnosed with rare conditions such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome or CAPS also face migraines. Root causes may be variable, but the intense headaches are often accompanied by nausea, light sensitivity, and disturbed vision. Women seem to be more susceptible than men. Many people who deal with migraines chronically find themselves anxious, depressed, or even disabled as a result.
And that’s why Aimovig seems so promising. Most treatments for migraines focus on mitigating the consequences – treating the symptoms.
Aimovig is the first type of drug available which effectively treats the migraine itself.
Though Aimovig is shiny and new, the research behind it dates back as early as the 1980s. In migraine studies conducted in the 80s, researchers observed that migraine patients had more than their symptoms in common. They found a biological indicator in the blood of patients experiencing migraines. Named calcitonin gene-related peptide (or CGRP), this peptide appeared in elevated amounts for migraine patients.
The research went a step further. An injection containing the peptide was formulated. Given to patients prone to migraines, the peptide led tot he onset of headaches. Tested against a control group, researchers found that those not prone to migraines were undisturbed by the peptide injection.
Aimovig builds on this legacy. Drug developers and manufacturers began investigating antibodies that would block CGRP within the body. It seemed a likely way to prevent migraines. As it turns out, clinical studies corroborated the concept.
In one study, participants taking Aimovig experienced a decrease in migraines from eight per month to five or fewer.
It should be noted, however, that participants receiving the placebo treatment experienced fewer migraines as well. No major side effects were observed during study of Aimovig.
As for administering the drug, patients are able to handle injections themselves. Aimovig comes packaged similarly to other injections such as insulin or epipen. Amgen, Aimovig’s manufacturer says it has plans to release the drug to market within the week. The company also claims to have plans in hand to help patients manage the cost of the new drug.