New treatments offer hope for millions who suffer from migraines

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - For the millions who suffer from migraines, doctors say there is hope.

One treatment to prevent migraine, Amgen’s Aimovig, hit the market in May; FDA approval on another, Eli Lilly’s Emgality, is expected in September.

These drugs are once monthly shots that doctors say can significantly reduce the number of migraine days a month.

“Emgality had about 15 percent of patients had 100 percent pain relief,” said Dr. Gudarz Davar, Vice President of Neurology with Eli Lilly.

Until now, drugs prescribed for migraine were meant to treat other conditions, like seizures or depression. Most of these have serious side effects, including speech and memory problems. One drug warns not to ‘do anything that needs alertness.’

“I’ve been on so many different drugs I can’t even probably tell you how many, one medicine I ended up in the ER because I had an allergic reaction,” said Heather Myers, a lawyer and mom of two who has suffered from migraines for more than 20 years. “One drug had a side effect of face paralysis.”

If patients opt not to take these traditional drugs, symptoms of a migraine are often debilitating, including nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound.

“I describe it kind of like someone hitting you in the head with a sledge hammer over and over again,” Myers said.

“Imagine having the flu up to 15-20 times in a month,” said Dr. Davar. “That’s the nature of migraine, it’s a neurobiological storm.”

The Migraine Research Foundation reports that 12 percent of the U.S. population suffers from migraine. That’s about 39 million people.

Now, for patients like Myers and millions of others, there is hope for a treatment to drastically reduce the number of migraines each month.

“Something that actually would be a preventative would just be amazing, I think it would be life changing,” Myers said.

Amgen lists common side effects of Aimovig as constipation and cramps; Eli Lilly says the most common side effect of Emgality is injection site pain.

Patients should talk to a doctor about how the drugs work and how to get them.

Click here for more on Aimovig.

Click here for more on Emgality.