PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — For some people with migraine headaches, relief can be hard to get, as these people at a local mall will tell you.
“It’s not easy,” says one woman.
“It is very hard to get rid of migraines. You can try Advil, Tylenol. I’ll do Advil usually. But, uh, there’s really no way around it. You just have to rest, I think,” says one man.
Triptans, which came out in the 1990s, work quite well, but can affect the heart and blood vessels. And not everyone responds to them.
So new, migraine-specific treatments are on their way that work differently.
“The results are so spectacular. They’re fast, efficient, and the people [are] tolerating them well,” says Allegheny General Hospital neurologist Dr. Dolores Santamaria.
A few of these would be given by vein or as a shot just under the skin.
The medicines are monoclonal antibodies. These are a type of immune system super-molecule that targets a portion of protein that plays a role in pain. This protein goes up in the blood and spinal fluid with migraines, and comes down with successful treatment.
Because of this new way of working, the effect of a single dose could last weeks.
In double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials, for people with chronic migraine, the new medicines cut the number per month in half.
“If the patients came to the study with eight migraines per month, they drop it to four,” says Dr. Santamaria.
Studies show the liver can be affected, but only temporarily.
The performance of the new migraine medicines was convincingly better than placebo, but of note, some people did respond to placebo, and some people dropped out of the study because they could not tolerate the placebo, says KDKA-TV Health Editor, Dr. Maria Simbra.
The medicines are going to the FDA for approval. It may be late spring or summer before they are available for prescription.
“The success of this paradigm shift in treatment is going to depend on the cost and the access,” Dr. Santamaria adds.