Migraines are painful headaches often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. An episode can be a complicated event, with symptoms that change over hours or even days, and tend to progress through several stages.
Now two experimental drugs may finally offer help in preventing migraines in people who suffer multiple attacks every month, according to preliminary findings from two separate clinical trials. This is great news for anyone who has ever experienced the life altering and debilitating effects of migraine headaches.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, around 12 percent of Americans suffer migraine headaches. More women than men get migraines and each migraine can last from four hours to three days. Previous medication worked by treating the headache, not preventing them from occurring.
In one study, the drug ALD403 was administer one time by IV. After 5-8 weeks, the patients showed a 66% reduction in migraine episodes compared to a 52% reduction when using a placebo. No side effects were reported.
In the other study, patients were given bi-weekly injections of the drug LY2951742 over a three-month period. The group taking the drug had slightly larger decrease in migraines than in the control group that received the placebo. A 63% decline was observed on the patients given the drug and only a 42% in the control group. The drug did have a few side effects like pain at the injection site for example, which need to be investigated more thoroughly in a future study.
Migraine sufferers can “take heart” that new drugs, specific to the pain condition, are under development, said Dr. Peter Goadsby, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who worked on both studies.
The new drugs target a tiny protein which recent research has implicated in triggering migraine pain. These designer type medications are the first to be developed to prevent instead of treat migraine headaches.
“Some people can manage with pain relievers, but about one-third would benefit from preventive medication,” according to Dr. Richard Lipton, a headache expert who was not involved in the studies. Many people never take preventative medicines because they do not work well and often have severe side effects.
“There’s a huge need for new preventive medications,” Lipton said.
These studies were only preliminary and many questions remain. However, the findings are very encouraging for those who suffer with migraines and offer hope of finding a way to prevent the onset of these terrible headaches that complicate the lives of many individuals.