Thursday, 21 Sep 2023

Thousands of Brits battling migraines set to get new pain-busting pill

Thousands of Brits battling migraines set to get new pain-busting pill on NHS

  • About 13,000 more patients will now be eligible for rimegepant on the NHS
  • READ MORE:  Daily ‘lifechanging’ migraine pill set to be available in months

Around 13,000 Brits suffering from severe and untreatable migraines are set to benefit from a pill that can prevent attacks.

Called rimegepant, the drug is made by Covid jab maker Pfizer and has previously been endorsed by reality star and migraine sufferer Khloe Kardashian.

Sold under the brand name Vydura, the pill costs about $24,000 (£19,000) per year in the US where it is sold under the brand Nurtec. But eligible patients in England will only pay £9.65 ($12.05) per dose.

Under National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) guidelines issued today the drug will only be available to acute migraine sufferers who have tried at least two types of triptans — a medication usually given to tackle headaches or migraines, without success.

Other patients, who are unable to take triptans due to an intolerance or have tried over-the-counter painkillers for their migraine to no avail, will also be eligible.

Called Rimegepant, the pill is made by Covid jab maker Pfizer and sold under the brand name Vydura in the UK and Nurtec in the US

Reality star, and migraine sufferer, Khloe Kardashian previously endorsed rimegepant in an Instagram post in 2021

Rimegepant comes in the form of a wafer which the patient holds under their tongue to dissolves.

It helps treat migraines by stopping the release of a protein around the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CRGP).

CGRP causes intense inflammation in the membrane that protects the brain, called the meninges, and is responsible for the severe pain associated with migraine attacks.

Nice said its final draft guidance on rimegepant ‘addresses the high unmet need for treatment options for acute migraine’.

Helen Knight, director of medicines evaluation at Nice, said: ‘Migraine is a condition described in comments to Nice from carers and people with migraine as an invisible disability that affects all aspects of life including work, education, finances, mental health, social activities and family.

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‘Today’s final draft guidance addresses the high unmet need for treatment options for acute migraine, once again demonstrating our ability to ensure clinically and cost-effective medicines are available to those who need them as quickly as possible.’

In July, the medicine was recommended as an option for preventing episodic migraine in adults who have at least four and fewer than 15 attacks per month if ‘at least’ three other treatments have not worked.

Under the latest guidance, it will also be used to relieve symptoms of a migraine, which can include pain, nausea and sensitivity to light, but also painless symptoms such as temporary visual disturbances known as ‘aura’, which Nice said ‘is not well managed with existing treatments’.

Ms Knight added: ‘This is the first and only Nice-recommended medicine that can help alleviate the misery of acute migraines, and may be considered a step-change in treatment.’

The recommendation is expected to benefit about 13,000 patients.

Some patients take rimegepant either as needed, or every other day as a migraine preventative.

The most commonly reported side effect from taking the drug is nausea, affecting about one in 10 people.

Robert Music, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said the Nice guidance ‘provides people with migraine valuable options to help reduce the pain and length of a migraine attack.

‘It brings new hope,’ he added.

‘It will especially benefit those who have not found a treatment that works, those who get debilitating side effects – including medicine overuse headache – from them, and those with cardiovascular disease who cannot take existing treatments.

‘Migraine is an incredibly misunderstood condition that can have a significant impact on all areas of life, including ability to work, maintain relationships and mental health.’

Toby Cousens, Pfizer UK’s head of hospital and internal medicine said: ‘This decision is an important milestone and further expands the use of rimegepant for treatment of acute migraine in England.

‘Pfizer is committed to supporting people living with migraine and we will continue to work with healthcare partners to improve care.’

Migraines typically feel like a very bad headaches with a throbbing pain on one side of the skull which can last anywhere between hours or days.

Sufferers can get warning signs before a migraine such as stiff neck, fatigue or vision changes like seeing zigzag lines which is commonly referred to as an ‘aura’. An estimated one in seven Brits and one in 10 Americans suffer from some form of migraine.

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