Hope for more than 150,000 migraine sufferers as NHS approves new wonder drug
- The drug eptinezumab has been approved for use on the NHS for 164,000 adults
- Patients using it will have had 3 preventive migraine treatments fail already
- This drug is given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in hospital
A new drug is set to transform the lives of thousands of migraine sufferers after it was approved for use on the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending eptinezumab for around 164,000 adults where at least three previous preventive treatments have failed.
The drug, given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in hospital, has been found to reduce both frequency and severity of migraine attacks.
The watchdog suggests eptinezumab is prescribed to people who suffer with severe migraines or who may be unable to take other preventative jabs.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is recommending eptinezumab for around 164,000 adults where at least three previous preventive treatments have failed
The drug has been found to be as effective as three others already approved for injection at home — erenumab, fremanezumab and galcanezumab.
All four medicines are calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors, which work by targeting how proteins cause blood vessels in the brain to swell.
During a migraine attack, blood vessels on the surface of the brain dilate, releasing inflammatory chemical messengers that trigger pain.
The new class of treatments are thought to work by blocking the CGRP chemical called CGRP which prevents the blood vessels dilating.
Migraines are common, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men, usually starting in early adulthood.
As well as throbbing head pain, many people suffer other symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Painkillers often have little effect during an attack and even if they work, sufferers may have sufficiently frequent attacks to need a preventative treatment.
Trials found patients treated with eptinezumab experienced a significant reduction in severity and frequency of headaches each month.
The treatment costs around £5,870 annually, though the pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck has agreed to provide it to the NHS at a discounted price.
Rob Music, chief executive at the Migraine Trust, said it was ‘great news’ that there is another treatment option for people living with severe migraines but added that it was vital those eligible can access it.
The drug, which is given as an intravenous infusion every 12 weeks in hospital, has been found to reduce both frequency and severity of migraine attacks (file photo)
‘This new class of drugs has been life-changing to many people with migraine in the UK.
‘It has allowed many to do things that migraine had prevented them from doing, from being able to work full-time to being able to enjoy travelling.
‘Unfortunately, too many people whose lives are currently being severely impacted by migraine, and who are eligible for these treatments, are unable to access them.
‘As we start 2023, we hope that integrated care systems will do more to ensure that there is greater access to this potentially life-changing treatment.’