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A wave of new preventive migraine medications are on the horizon.
The migraine market is huge. An estimated 38 million Americans have migraines – and Dr. Eric Pearlman, a medical fellow at Lilly, one of the companies developing these treatments, told Business Insider that about 15 million of those migraine sufferers would be eligible for preventive treatment.
Migraines are a chronic neurologic disease that can cause pain, sensitivity to light and noise, dizziness, and nausea. For some, more than four days of the month are consumed by the episodes.
While there aren’t any drugs available today that were originally approved for alleviating migraines, other treatments – including Botox and anti-seizure medications – are used. Pain relievers can also help treat some of the symptoms of migraines.
The new class of drugs aims to reduce the number of days per month people have migraines. By the end of the year, three of these drugs could be in front of the FDA for review. Here’s the skinny on each of them.
Amgen, erenumab – Amgen filed erenumab with the FDA in May. In data released Thursday, Amgen said its drug was able to reduce the number of migraine days per month by 6.6 days in patients who received the treatment, compared to a 4.2-day reduction in the placebo group. Before the trial, patients had about 18 migraine days. Lilly, galcanezumab – Lilly presented phase 3 data on this drug over the weekend. The company found in two studies that pateitns on the drug had between a 3.6 and 4-day reduction in migraine days per month (to be eligible, patients had to have between 4 and 14 migraine days per month). That’s compared to the 2.15 and 1.85 day reduction that was observed in the placebo groups. Lilly said it’s planning to file galcanezumab with the FDA in the second half of 2017. Teva, fremanezumab – On June 7, the company came out with data from its late-stage trial. On average, the trial participants had 9.1 migraine days. Those who got the medication had on average 3.7 fewer migraine days per month, compared to 2.2-day reduction in the placebo group. Teva plans to file with the FDA in 2017. Alder Biopharmaceuticals, eptinezumab – Alder’s drug is in phase 3 trials. The company plans to submit to the FDA in the second half of 2018.
The new class of drugs target CGRP, short for calcitonin gene-related peptide.
CGRP isn’t exactly a new target. Pearlman said that CGRP has been known to play a significant role in migraines since the 1980s and 1990s, though it’s taken some time to develop the technology that can leverage it.
For now, the drugs are injected typically on a monthly basis, and the most common side effect appears to be reactions at the injection site. Allergan also has a CGRP drug in the works that’s taken as a pill, but it’s a little further back in development. If approved, the drugs are expected to cost $8,500 per year.