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Aimovig: Miracle Drug or Disaster in Disguise?

For migraine sufferers finding real relief is something we all search for.  So with Aimovig hitting the market touting that it will reduce your monthly migraines many are jumping for joy at the possibilities.  But what do the studies actually say if you read the fine print?

Aimovig targets a molecule called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), found in the spinal cord and brain.  The function of this molecule is to primarily transmit pain.

The brain itself doesn’t have pain receptors but the tissues surrounding the brain do.  

Aimovig, which is a monoclonal antibody, is just a small area of the research being done in this class of drugs. Among other areas of research for monoclonals is cancer treatment.  

Essentially what monoclonals do is breakdown or prevents the secretion of a substance (antibody) and prevents it from secreting or attaching. In this case CGRP. It’s important to point out that not all migraines are caused by the CGRP.  

If the root cause of your migraines is yet unknown this drug might not be helpful. Most migraines are a combination of many triggers and this drug only targets one possible trigger.

 

This is the first drug of its kind.  It was created to target migraines specifically.  Most other medications used to treat or help prevent migraines have been created for other diseases or conditions like depression or seizures.  The sample sizes used in the 3 studies were very small.

The last trial, 3B, only used 246 people and of the 3 was the only one to show anything different worth noting over the placebo.  The reduction in migraine frequency was small. Of those reporting migraines 15 days or more in a month most saw only 1-2 days less than the placebo. The side effects most reported are site injection pain and constipation.  

There is still no clear evidence of what long-term use of this drug will bring for users or how effective it will be or whether or not it will continue to be over time.

It is also not known if there is a rebound effect with this drug.  It is also not known what this drug does to pregnant or breastfeeding women that also suffer from migraines.

From the initial research, it seems as if the placebo could be just as effective as this drug for many since so much is yet unknown.

It doesn’t appear to be slated as a primary treatment for migraine for now which will require prior approval from your insurance company.  Which brings me to the cost of Aimovig.

The list price is set at $6900 a year or $575 a month. The drug is administered by subcutaneous injection via an auto-injector device.

With so much yet unknown on this drug, how it reacts in those that don’t have the trigger of CGRP, to low study numbers, to cost of the drug, to whether or not insurance will approve it for you, what do you have left?  Much is being done in the area of root cause for migraines and that work is personalized just for you and what your triggers are. Since the placebo seemed to be fairly effective at getting close to the same results that the drug did looking into your root cause could be the ultimate answer.

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