Hope for 150,000 migraine sufferers as new pain-busting pill gets green light from UK medicines watchdog
- Nice has recommended Rimegepant as option for 145,000 migraines sufferers
- The drug by Pfizer is taken as a wafer which dissolves under the tongue
Thousands of migraine sufferers could soon benefit from a new pill to prevent attacks after it was given the green light on the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (Nice) has recommended the drug Rimegepant as an option for preventing migraines in up to 145,000 adults where three previous treatments have failed.
Also called Vydura, the drug by Pfizer is taken as a wafer which dissolves under the tongue and is the first oral treatment for preventing migraines to be given the go-ahead by the drugs regulator.
It will be offered to adults who have at least four migraine attacks a month but fewer than 15.
Helen Knight, Nice director of medicines evaluation, said: ‘Each year the lives of millions of people in England are blighted by migraine attacks.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (Nice) has recommended the drug Rimegepant as an option for preventing migraines in up to 145,000 adults where three previous treatments have failed
‘They can be extremely debilitating and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.’
She added: ‘Rimegepant is the first oral treatment for migraine to be recommended by Nice and for many thousands of people it is likely to be a welcome and more convenient addition to existing options for a condition that is often overlooked and undertreated.’
More than 5.6million people in England are thought to have episodic migraines and around 190,000 attacks are experienced every day.
Attacks usually last between four and 72 hours and symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light and sound, feeling sick and vomiting.
Beta-blockers, antidepressants, injections and epilepsy medicine are used to try to help with the headaches, but can have significant side-effects and can be ineffective, according to Nice.
The latest drug works by stopping the release of a protein around the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP causes intense inflammation in the coverings of the brain (the meninges) and is responsible for the severe pain associated with migraine attacks.
Charities welcomed the news treatment but said they were disappointed it had not also been approved for acute migraines.
Rob Music, chief executive of the Migraine Trust, said: ‘Too many people with migraine end up with medication overuse headache as a result of their migraine treatment, which has a serious impact on their lives. This is an impact which is preventable if migraine is treated effectively.
‘Gepants, the new class of migraine medication which Rimegepant is part of, can help prevent this happening. While we welcome that it has been approved for the preventive treatment of migraine, we are very disappointed by the decision not to approve it for the acute treatment of migraine.’
Toby Cousens, head of hospital and internal medicine at Pfizer UK, said: ‘Today’s decision is a positive step forward to help meet the care needs of eligible patients in England and Wales.
‘We are committed to improving the lives of those living with the burden of migraine and will continue to work with Nice and other health bodies in the UK to help further enhance access and care.’