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Ground-breaking Wafer-like Migraine Treatment to be Available on NHS

An image of multiple blister packs filled with different coloured and shaped pills.
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

Science and Research Correspondent Jana Bazeed discusses a new treatment for migraine prevention that will soon be available on the NHS.

For the first time, NICE has recommended an oral treatment for migraine prevention.

As of 5 July, 2023, the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued final guidance recommending the use of Pfizer’s Rimegepant (sold under the brand name Vydura) as a treatment for episodic migraines in adults.  

This recommendation gives 145,000 people a further treatment option on the NHS to help prevent episodic migraines. According to NICE, it is estimated that around 5.6 million people experience these migraines in England, with approximately 190,000 migraine attacks happening daily.

Rimegepant will only be available to adults who have previously tried at least three other preventative drugs and still have between 4-15 migraine attacks per month.

The drug works by inhibiting the binding of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), a protein found near the brain, preventing its interaction with its intended receptors. CGRP is responsible for inducing significant inflammation and the excruciating pain linked to migraine attacks.

Current treatment options include the use of drugs used for other conditions, such as antidepressants and epilepsy medications, which can have significant side-effects and can be ineffective for some patients. After these drugs have been tried, NICE recommends the use of erenumab, fremanezumab or galcanezumab. King’s research was central to the recommendation of these drugs, which are all administered via injections.

The medicated dissolving wafers are welcomed as a more convenient and less invasive treatment option.  Professor Peter Goadsby, from King’s College London, said: “Today’s decision offers an important advance in treatment options for those who do not respond or cannot tolerate current treatments.”

Professor Goadsby has been working in this area for decades and has led groundbreaking research at King’s identifying the role of the CGRP and testing treatments tailored specifically for migraine attacks.

The treatment should be available on NHS in England within the next three months.

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