New FDA-Approved Drug May Help Those With Migraines

Kris Gilmore Tolek has had migraines since her early teens and now gets them nearly every day. “I get bad migraines a couple times a week and more mild ones on the other days,” she explained. The debilitating condition also runs in her family.

Desperate for relief, she has tried a variety of treatments. “I’ve tried many supposed migraine and off-label medications, such as nerve blocks, chiropractor and bio feedback—and have gotten either no relief or some relief but with many side effects.”

Ms. Gilmore Tolek is one of many to live with migraines. Selena Nicholas-Bublick, MD, ProMedica neurologist, said there are up to 39 million migraine sufferers in the country.

Fortunately, the recent approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of a drug that prevents migraines gives patients like Ms. Gilmore Tolek hope. The drug, called Aimovig™, blocks a molecule in the brain that helps trigger migraines. It is a monthly injection that the patient usually injects into their thigh.

According to Dr. Nicholas-Bublick, there are other migraine therapies out there already but studies have shown that patients are dissatisfied, either because they aren’t effective enough or because there are side effects. “It’s frustrating to patients and care providers, and it can unfortunately lead to overuse of acute pain medications,” she said.

So how does Aimovig work? Dr. Nicholas-Bublick explained that during a migraine, certain molecules in the brain are released. One molecule in particular, called CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) plays an important role in causing pain. Aimovig blocks this molecule from getting to a receptor, which would cause pain.

Aimovig is a little different from other medications because it’s taken through the skin as an injection. So far, it’s showing promising results with limited side effects, said Dr. Nicholas-Bublick.

Ms. Gilmore Tolek is hopeful it will work for her, too.

Learn more about how migraines happen and how they can be treated.

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