Cure for Migraine? FDA Approves Amgen, Novartis Drug Aimovig

The FDA has approved a new migraine drug that can cut the number of attacks patients suffer each month.

The drug, called erenumab-aooe and marketed as Aimovig, is the first preventative migraine treatment approved by the FDA, according to their statement.

Aimovig is one of a new type of drug that blocks the molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide, which plays a key role in the development of migraines.

Tareck Kadrie, a neurologist in a private practice in Chattanooga, Tennessee, told The Wall Street Journal: "We think it's going to revolutionize treatment in migraines." He described it as the "first treatment directed toward migraine prevention."

Dr. Zubair Ahmed, a headache specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, told the newspaper that while there is not currently a cure for migraines, because it is a chronic condition, "this may be one step closer in that direction."

The FDA has approved a new migraine drug, Aimovig, that can cut the number of attacks patients suffer each month.  Getty Images

Pharmaceutical companies Amgen Inc. and Novartis AG can now manufacture the drug, according to the Wall Street Journal. Aimovig offers new hope for approximately 39 million adults and children in the U.S. who deal with migraines, which are characterized by an intense, pulsing or throbbing pain in one side of the head. Migraines affect 10 percent of the worldwide population, and are three times more common in women than men.

Sufferers may also become sensitive to light and sound and experience nausea and vomiting. Around one third of migraine attacks are preceded by sensory or visual disturbances, such as the temporary loss of vision, the appearance of zigzag lines or flashing lights. These episodes can be triggered by stress, lack of food or sleep, diet or changes in hormones.

Patients prescribed Aimovig, which will be available in around a week according to The Wall Street Journal, will administer it via injection once a month. It will cost $6,900 annually. In three clinical trials on individuals with a history of episodic migraines, it was shown to be better than a placebo in lowering the onset of migraines.

The first study involved almost 1,000 participants. Over the course of six months, those who used Aimovig experienced one to two fewer migraines per month. In a second study involving almost 580 patients, participants using the drug experienced one fewer migraine day per month on average during a three-month period. In a third, three-month study on almost 670 patients with chronic migraines, patients experienced on average 2.5 fewer monthly migraines. Side effects included constipation and injection site reactions.

Dr. Eric Bastings, deputy director of the Division of Neurology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement: "Aimovig provides patients with a novel option for reducing the number of days with migraine. We need new treatments for this painful and often debilitating condition."

This piece was updated with comment from Dr. Zubair Ahmed and background information.