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Mitigating Migraines



People who suffer from frequent migraines might soon find relief—two new drugs that have shown promise in easing the pain are on the horizon. The drugs, designed specifically to target a pathway believed to be key in these headaches, are in phase 3 clinical trials.

A migraine is a severe headache, lasting hours or longer, often accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light or sound. In a pair of large studies, two drugs that tweak brain circuits involved in migraine each showed they could reduce the frequency of attacks without causing side effects, according to Stephen Silberstein, MD, a study author and director of the Jefferson Headache Center.

Silberstein’s study gave monthly or quarterly injections of an antibody called fremanezumab to more than 700 patients who have chronic migraines. Nearly half the people who got the drug experienced fewer migraine attacks; in some people the attacks all but vanished. In the other study, conducted in London, a different antibody called erenumab produced similar results in patients who had up to 14 migraines a month.

Neither drug appeared to cause more side effects than a placebo; however, the drugs did not work for everyone. A major drawback, says researchers, is that the medication could cost several thousand dollars a month. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to review the new drugs in the next few months.