Thursday July 18, 2019

Two Drug Trials May Promise Some Relief for People Who Suffer from Migraine Headaches

An experimental oral drug made migraine pain quickly go away for one in five sufferers

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Drug, Migraine, Headaches
FILE - A patient describes her migraines at the Venice Family Clinic in Los Angeles, Feb, 16, 2011. VOA

Two drug trials may promise some relief for people who suffer from migraine headaches as well as those who have cluster headaches, a rare but intensely painful type of headache thought to be related to migraine.

According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, two injections of the drug galcanezumab reduced the frequency of episodic cluster headaches (ECH). And in a separate study in the same issue of the journal, an experimental oral drug made migraine pain quickly go away for one in five sufferers.

Cluster headaches typically appear at least once a day — often at the same time of the day or night — for weeks or months. The pain is typically around one eye. They eventually go away for a while but can return after an absence of months or years.

In the galcanezumab study, 106 volunteers received two injections of the anti-migraine medicine or a placebo, spaced one month apart. The drug cut the average number of episodic cluster headaches by 51% during the first three weeks of treatment, from 17.8 per week down to 9.1 per week. Placebo injections produced a 30% reduction, from 17.3 per week to 12.1 per week.

Drug, Migraine, Headaches
Two drug trials may promise some relief for people who suffer from migraine headaches as well as those who have cluster headaches. PIxabay

Relief for many

Almost three-quarters of participants saw some reduction in headache frequency compared with about half of those on placebo.

“Some patients get completely suppressed and many partially so,” lead author Dr. Peter Goadsby of King’s College London told Reuters Health in an email. “I do not think one can overstate how bad a cluster attack is.”

To be eligible for the study, patients had to have at least one attack every other day but not more than eight per day. The typical volunteer had been dealing with the headaches for more than 16 years. The average age was about 46 years old and more than 82% were men.

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Each 300 mg injection costs about $1,400, according to the website goodrx.com. Galcanezumab is sold under the brand name Emgality by Eli Lilly, and the company paid for the study.

“Patients report ECH attacks as the most severe pain they experience, bar none,” including childbirth and kidney stones, said Goadsby, director of the NIHR-Wellcome Trust King’s Clinical Research Facility and SLaM Biomedical Research Centre.

“Imagine what it’s like to give birth one to eight times a day, every day, for eight to 12 weeks a year. Imagine not a single full night’s sleep for eight to 12 weeks and you know next year it will be the same,” he said. “This development is really important for these patients.”

And it may spark the development of treatments that are even more effective, he added.

Drug, Migraine, Headaches
According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, two injections of the drug galcanezumab reduced the frequency of episodic cluster headaches (ECH). PIxabay

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug as a first-ever treatment for episodic cluster headaches in June. The company estimates that about 250,000 people in the United States suffer from them.

For many, a migraine per month

In contrast, migraine headaches plague about 39 million people in the U.S., primarily women. Three-quarters of people who have migraines experience at least one per month.

The migraine study looked at Biohaven Pharmaceuticals’ experimental oral drug rimegepant, and was financed by Biohaven.

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Researchers found that 19.6% of the 537 volunteers who took it while suffering from a migraine were free of pain within two hours compared with 12% of the 535 volunteers given placebos.

Half the patients in both groups had their pain relapse two to 48 hours after the dose. Unlike conventional treatment with triptan drugs, taking a second dose doesn’t provide additional relief, lead author Dr. Richard Lipton, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City, told Reuters Health in a telephone interview.

“Triptans are well-established therapies; maybe 25% of people with migraines are currently on a triptan,” said Lipton, who is also in the department of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “If it works well for them, they’re not going to be candidates on this drug. This is for people with contraindications for a triptan” or people who get no relief from triptans.

Triptan therapy costs about $7,000 a year, he said, and when it comes to rimegepant, “I’m very hopeful the drug will be affordable because there are a lot of people who need it.” (VOA)

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UN Report: 30% Increase in Drug Usage, 35 Million Suffering from Disorders

The death toll also increased, with 5,85,000 people dying in 2017 from drug use

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Social media users are 63 per cent less likely to experience serious psychological distress from one year to the next, including major depression or serious anxiety. Pixabay

The United Nation’s latest report on drug use revealed a 30 per cent increase on 2009 with regards to the consumption of narcotics with some 35 million people worldwide suffering from drug disorders, thanks to in-depth surveys conducted in India and Nigeria.

The UN has raised the alarm on the need for further international cooperation to deal with the health and criminal impact of substance misuse, the Efe news reported.”

“The findings of this’year’s World Drug Report fill in and further complicate the global picture of drug challenges, underscoring the need for broader international cooperation to advance balanced and integrated health and criminal justice responses to supply and de”and,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN’s Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said.

“With improved research and more precise data from India and Nigeria, both amongst the 10 most populous countries in the world – we see that there are any more opioid users and people with use disorders than previously estimated,” Fedotov added.

drug
The studies have contributed to more accurate figures of drug use globally. Pixabay

The surveys in India in 2018 and Nigeria in 2017 have offered great insights into drug consumption due to being such vast demographics for their region. India accounts for 30 per cent of the population in Asia alone.

The Indian survey was based on interviews with 5,00,000 people across the nation. The studies have contributed to more accurate figures of drug use globally. The report estimated that of the 271 million people that used any drug, 35 million (nearly 13 per cent) suffer from a disorder.

Previous records fell 4.5 million people short in their estimates and it was the surveys conducted in both India and Nigeria that triggered the adjustment. The death toll also increased, with 5,85,000 people dying in 2017 from drug use.

Cannabis consumption, the most widely used drug globally with approximately 188 million users in 2016, has increased in Asia and North and South America, whilst a spike in use of opioids was registered.

Opioids are the drugs that present the largest cause for concern due to the severe impact on the health of users. Also of concern is the non-medical use of painkiller Tramadol produced in South Asia and trafficked primarily to Africa and the Middle East.

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The report estimated that of the 271 million people that used any drug, 35 million (nearly 13 per cent) suffer from a drug use disorder. VOA

Amongst the negative consequences of drug use, mental health disorders, HIV infection, hepatitis C and overdose are the main concerns, many of which can lead to premature death.

Injecting drugs, mainly opioids, is deemed the most dangerous way of consuming narcotics due to the proliferation of diseases through the sharing of needles. The rate of 15-64 year olds who inject drugs is four times higher in eastern and southeastern Europe and in central Asia.

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According to the report, 50 per cent of those live with hepatitis C. Mortality rates overwhelmingly affect men who account for 72 per cent of those who die as a result of drug use. Sixty-eight per cent of overdose deaths in 2017 were due to opioids.

Most of the world’s opioids are produced in Afghanistan (263,000 hectares of poppy seed production) with Myanmar (37,300 hectares) coming in as the second largest producer amid a decline in consumption in Asia as the demand for synthetic drugs increased, particularly methamphetamine. (IANS)