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Is the Newest Migraine Prevention Drug Right for You?

HeadacheIf you have frequent migraine headaches — occurring a few days a month or more — you know the toll they can take on your work and quality of life.

So how much of a difference might the new migraine-prevention drug erenumb (AimovigTM), approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May, make for you?

“This is the first drug specifically developed for migraine prevention,” says Zubair Ahmed, MD, a Cleveland Clinic neurologist specializing in headaches. “In general, that means those taking it will have fewer side effects — and, for some people, it will be more effective.”

How does it work?
Until now, Dr. Ahmed explains, drugs used to prevent migraines were actually designed to lower blood pressure, prevent seizures or treat depression. But they were discovered to also help with migraines, so the drugs were prescribed in what’s called an “off-label” use.

Erenumab is the first in a new class of medications — known as CGRP inhibitors — that address migraines “head-on.”

CGRP stands for the scientific name of a protein that’s naturally found in the nervous system. The protein is released from nerve endings, including those surrounding the brain, where it widens blood vessels and may promote inflammation and pain. The new drug acts by blocking the protein, preventing or reducing pain in the process.

How effective is it?