Friday February 28, 2020

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)

Next Story

Cannabis Use More Common Among Elderly People: Study

Cannabis use rises among the elderly, finds study

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Cannabis use continues to increase in popularity among adults of 65 years of age and older in the United States. Pixabay

Cannabis use continues to increase in popularity among adults of 65 years of age and older in the United States, according to a new study. This a recent health news

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine estimates that cannabis use in adults aged 65 and older increased from 2.4 percent to 4.2 percent in the United States — a significant increase of 75 percent — between 2015 and 2018.

With the legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational purposes in many states in the US, medical professionals are studying its use in treating a number of chronic health conditions. Since 1996, 31 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 states and Washington DC have legalized recreational use.

The survey categorized cannabis use by asking whether marijuana, hashish, pot, grass, or hash oil was either smoked or ingested.

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Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use. Pixabay

Researchers observed trends in prevalence of past-year cannabis use, broken down by sociodemographic background, chronic disease, healthcare utilization, and other substance use among adults age 65 and older, in the United States, between 2015 and 2018.

Certain subsets of this population saw an even higher rise in prevalence. For example, researchers estimated that past-year use more than doubled by older adults with diabetes, among those who have received mental health treatment, and those reporting past-year alcohol use.

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Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.

Researchers say they next plan to acquire more detailed information about how medical marijuana affects older populations, its risks and side effects. (IANS)