Thousands of migraine sufferers could benefit from drug on NHS

Migraines are common, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men.

Migraine stock
Migraine stock

Thousands of people who suffer from migraines could benefit from a drug that has been approved on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said it was recommending eptinezumab (also called Vyepti) for preventing migraine in around 164,000 adults where at least three previous preventive treatments have failed.

The drug is taken in hospital every 12 weeks as an intravenous infusion and works to stave off migraines.

Nice said medical opinion suggests eptinezumab would be reserved for people with severe migraine attacks or who may be unable to take other jabs at home.

The drug has been found to be as effective as three other drugs already approved for injection at home (erenumab, fremanezumab and galcanezumab).

All four medicines are calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors, which work by targeting how proteins cause blood vessels in the brain to swell.

Migraines are common, affecting around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood.

As well as throbbing head pain, many people suffer other symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound.

Eptinezumab costs around £5,870 for a year’s treatment, though the pharmaceutical firm Lundbeck has agreed to provide it to the NHS at a discounted price.

Rob Music, chief executive at the Migraine Trust, said: “While it is great news that there is another treatment option for people living with this painful, debilitating and exhausting brain disease, it’s crucial that those who are eligible can actually access it.

“This new class of drugs has been life-changing to many people with migraine in the UK.

“It has allowed many to do things that migraine had prevented them from doing, from being able to work full-time to being able to enjoy travelling.

“Unfortunately, too many people whose lives are currently being severely impacted by migraine, and who are eligible for these treatments, are unable to access them.

“As we start 2023, we hope that integrated care systems will do more to ensure that there is greater access to this potentially life changing treatment.”

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