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The FDA approved erenumab (Aimovig) for migraine prevention after three randomized, controlled trials showed an overall 50 percent reduction in the frequency of migraine headaches.
Dr. Rashmi Halker Singh, a Mayo Clinic neurologist and migraine specialist who was one of several Mayo Clinic physicians and researchers who were part of the drug's study, called the new drug an exciting breakthrough for those who experience migraine headaches.
"This is the first time we have a migraine-preventive medicine that was designed to treat migraine based on what we know as to what happens in the brain during a migraine attack," Dr. Halker Singh says.
But she says others are expected to hit the market in the near future, as well.
"It belongs to a family of drugs called calcitonin gene-related peptide, or CGRP, monoclonal antibodies," she explains. "We expect a few more will also be FDA-approved in the next several months, but this is the first one."
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While Dr. Halker Singh is excited about the promise of erenumab, she did point out that it's not a miracle drug that will help every patient who experiences migraine headaches.
"In the trials there was a minority of patients that saw a dramatic headache reduction," she says. "About half of patients [in the trials] saw about ... a 50 percent reduction in their pain. Not everybody responds. And I think that adds to why ... [migraines are] a complex brain disease. It's a genetic disease, but there are lots of different components to it. And this treatment targets one part of this whole pain pathway. So I think it will be helpful for some patients but obviously not for everyone."
But Dr. Halker Singh says it's an exciting time to be physician who treats patients with migraine headaches. And she tells her patients this is a time for great hope for them.
"And as we look at the horizon, we expect several other things to also become FDA-approved for migraine as well – both for prevention and acute treatment," she says.
"And that just adds to our options in terms of treatment options for patients. Whether they want to try a new drug or try something that's not medication, there's lot of things out there. So our toolbox is just getting a little bit bigger. So I think that's very exciting."