A NEW pill that can halve the number of distressing migraines experienced by sufferers could soon be available in the UK.
The trials revealed that atogepant, which is taken once a day, is twice as effective as treatments currently available in Britain.
Experts have hailed the drug as potentially “life-changing” for millions of people who regularly experience throbbing headaches.
Professor Peter Goadsby, honorary consultant neurologist at Kings College Hospital, London, said: “Many patients struggle for years to find an effective treatment.
“During this period, many are resigned to living with the debilitating effects of migraines; it shouldn’t be like that.”
atogepant is already used in the US and was approved for use in the EU last month.
It has now received clearance from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and is awaiting approval from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
Once given the green light, which could be as early as Christmas this year, the pills could become a staple in British medicine cabinets.
Atogepant belongs to a new class of drugs called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists, or gepants.
It works by blocking a protein that builds up during migraines.
Studies have found that the drug significantly reduces attacks over a three-month period, sometimes by up to 50%.
Sufferers have gone from an average of eight headache-plagued days a month to just four.
This meant that atogepant was essentially twice as effective as rimegepant, currently used to treat the disease.
Migraines tend to feel like a really bad headache with a throbbing pain on one side, according to the NHS.
The Migraine Trust estimates that around 10 million adults in the UK are affected, many of them experiencing between four and 14 attacks a month.
They can last between two and 72 hours.
Most patients rely on pain relievers to ease the agony or on prescription drugs that can shorten the duration of attacks.
Rimegepant, a CGRP treatment, is available on the NHS in England and Scotland as a preventative and preventative measure, respectively.
It is hoped that atogepant will soon be another preventative option for those who experience four or more migraine days a month but for whom three other treatments have failed.
Rob Music, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said: “For many years, people living with migraines have struggled to find a treatment that works for them.
“Migraine attacks can have a huge impact on the ability to carry out day to day activities and have a detrimental impact on mental health.
“We hope to see atogepant offered on the NHS soon to ensure that those who are eligible have the opportunity to benefit from this treatment.”
Belinda Byrne, chief medical officer at pharmaceutical company AbbVie UK, which makes the drug, added: “There is a common misconception that migraines are just a headache, but for many sufferers, migraines have a devastating impact on their everyday lives.
“AbbVie is committed to improving standards of care for people living with migraines and we are delighted that the MHRA has provided marketing authorization for this new medicine.
“We are currently working with regulatory authorities to bring this potential treatment to eligible patients as quickly as possible.”
What is Migraine?
MIGRAINE is a serious and painful long-term health condition that causes migraine attacks.
Common symptoms include:
- Problems with your vision, such as seeing flashing lights
- Being very sensitive to light, sounds, and smells
- Feeling and being sick
Attacks affect people differently, but patients are often unable to function normally during these episodes.
They can last between two hours and three days.
The most common types of migraines fall into two categories:
- No aura (no warning signs)
- With aura (with warning signs such as blind spots, seeing flashing lights, numbness or tingling, feeling dizzy or off balance)
Treatment usually involves pain relievers and anti-sickness medications.
Lifestyle changes, such as changing your routine or sleeping pattern, can also help.
If someone has more than four attacks per month, preventive treatment such as calcitonin gene-related peptide antibodies (CGRP) may be prescribed.
Source: The Migraine Trust
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