June 25, 2021
Until now, people could take one type of medication to prevent migraines and another type of treatment as soon as they start, but a new drug is being touted for both.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved Rimegepant (known by the brand name Nurtec) for both preventive and aborative use in migraines, a revolutionary step for people with the neurological disease, said Dr. Sandhya Mehla, a specialist with the Hartford HealthCare Ayer Neuroscience Institute Headache Center.
“This is the first and only FDA-approved drug for the preventive and acute treatment of episodic migraines,” she noted, defining episodic as people who have 14 headaches or less each month. Fifteen or more per month are classified as chronic migraines.
The drug has been used to treat a migraine attack, with recent FDA approval extending its use to prevention. That move, said Dr. Mehla, comes from research showing that it is able to reduce the number of headache days within the first four weeks of its preventive use.
In the case of headaches already onset, Nurtec is “a good alternative for us to use in patients who cannot tolerate the acute medication available up to now, such as triptans, who did not achieve their full effect or who had contraindications”.
Nurtec’s expanded deployment provides vendors with a more robust tool to help patients manage migraines that affect 39 million Americans and that can be debilitating with accompanying nausea, dizziness, visual impairment, and / or sensitivity to light and sound.
“If we have both indications, we can use this drug in patients who need more frequent use in the expectation that they can prevent migraines, and at the same time use it to treat individual migraines,” said Dr. Mehla.
Nurtec, an orally disintegrating tablet, focuses on calcitonin gene receptor peptide (CGRP), one of the main chemicals the body releases during a migraine attack. The drug antagonizes the effects of CGRP, thereby canceling and preventing migraines. His preventive powers, according to Dr. Mehla, are based on its longer half-life.