DEC 27, 2019 8:47 AM PST

New Drug to Treat Migraines Approved by FDA

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Over 1 in 10 people around the world- or 780 million people. Three times more common in women than in men, until now, most treatments have been preventative, with other regular treatments for headaches usually proving ineffective. This may soon change however, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved a new drug, called Ubrelvy, to address these pains as they happen. 

Dr Billy Dunn, from the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said, “Migraine is an often disabling condition that affects an estimated 37 million people in the US. Ubrelvy represents an important new option for the acute treatment of migraine in adults, as it is the first drug in its class approved for this indication.”

When common painkillers such as ibuprofen and aspirin fail to treat migraines, the most common treatment option is a class of drugs known as triptans. They work by constricting blood vessels in the brain to stop the feeling of pain. Although effective, they are not considered the safest treatment option, especially for people at risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. 

Ubrelvy however, works differently. Rather than constricting blood vessels, it targets a protein known as calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) involved in the transmission of pain. As levels of CGRP rise when one has a migraine, by blocking its production, the drug is able to reduce pain therefrom. Although less effective than triptans, this makes it a safer treatment option for those with heart conditions. 

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, the drug was tested at two doses: 25mg and 50mg. At the end of their study, the researchers found that the lower dose left 20.7% of patients pain-free after just two hours alongside 34.1% relieved of most negative symptoms. Meanwhile, 21.8% of those on the higher dosage became pain-free after 2 hours of taking the drug, while 38.9% saw significant reduction in negative symptoms. These figures compare to just 12% of those on the placebo being completely relieved from pain, and 28% seeing a reduction in negative symptoms. 

Showing that Ubrelvy is an effective treatment, the researchers also found that nausea, sleepiness and dry mouth were the most common side effects of the treatment. 


Sources: Interesting Engineering, CNN Health and Slash Gear

About the Author
  • Science writer with a keen interest in behavioral biology, consciousness medicine and technology. Her current focus is how the interplay of these fields can create meaningful interactions, products and environments.
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