Atogepant: New migraine drug recommended for NHS use in England

  • By Aurélia Foster
  • Health journalist, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images

The first oral treatment to prevent chronic and episodic migraines could soon be available on the NHS.

Health experts have said up to 170,000 people in England could benefit from taking atogepant to prevent severe headaches, which can be debilitating.

It has been recommended for those who have not responded well to other medications or who cannot receive injections.

A migraine charity described it as a positive step and said it hoped access to the drug would be “rapid”.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended the drug, which comes in tablet form, after clinical trials suggested it was effective in some adults.

In its final draft guidelines, NICE said atogepant should be offered to people who have tried three other medicines taken by injection or infusion without success.

Migraines are often characterized by throbbing pain on one side of the head and can last for several days. Other symptoms include dizziness, sensitivity to light and difficulty speaking.

Atogepant is designed to be taken daily to prevent both chronic migraines (occurring more than 15 times per month) and episodic migraines (occurring between four and 15 times per month).

Initially, it will only be available from specialist doctors in secondary care settings, rather than GPs.

Rob Music, chief executive of the Migraine Trust, said it was good news as migraines could be very “debilitating”.

“It is positive to see even more therapies emerging for migraine sufferers, as many of them still rely on treatments developed for other conditions.”

However, the association warned that many people were struggling to access similar new medicines, due to doctors’ lack of knowledge and long waiting lists for specialists.

“We now need to ensure rapid access, so that migraine patients can benefit as quickly as possible,” Mr Music said.

Image source, Deborah Sloan


Deborah Sloan said she found a similar new migraine treatment effective, but difficult to access.

Life “gets back to normal”

Atogepant is a new type of anti-calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) drug, specially designed to treat migraines. They work by blocking the CGRP protein receptor. It is found in the nerves of the head and neck and is thought to cause inflammation and migraine pain. These medications have fewer side effects than older migraine medications, some of which were originally developed for other conditions.

Deborah Sloan, from Brighton, told the BBC that Rimegepant had gotten her life “back on track” after suffering from chronic migraines for 40 years. Other treatments have caused serious side effects.

She said she can now work again after losing two careers to migraines for 20 days of each month.

“I was at the end of my rope,” she said. “I was so desperate that I didn’t know how I was going to continue. I didn’t think I could endure another migraine attack because they are so debilitating.

“They can last three days, vomiting constantly. There’s nothing you can do. You want to die, that’s what I felt.”

However, Ms Sloan said she first had to obtain rimegepant privately due to the long wait to be referred to a specialist doctor who could prescribe it.

Atogepant is expected to be available on the NHS in England from next month.

It is already available in Scotland to prevent and relieve migraine symptoms.

News Source :
Gn Health

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