New drug for migraines hits the market

More than 38-million Americans suffer from migraines. (Source: NBC)
More than 38-million Americans suffer from migraines. (Source: NBC)
Updated: Aug. 23, 2018 at 9:48 AM CDT
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WSFA/NBC - More than 38-million Americans suffer from migraines but there hasn't been a medicine specifically designed to treat them until earlier this summer when a new kind of drug hit the market.

Allison Henderson has been searching for relief from her chronic migraines for as long as she can remember.

"I remember not wanting to go to the zoo or go camping because I was outside in the heat in the sun and I would get a migraine. I thought everybody hated camp," said Henderson.

Henderson's migraines got stronger and more frequent over the years. She tried more than 30 medicines in the hopes that something would ease the pain long enough to get her through long days as a busy pediatrician.

"It was difficult because I didn't have a choice. I always showed up for work. I couldn't call in sick but being in pain would take away some of the joy of my practice," Henderson said.

Allison was the perfect candidate for a new class of drug, the first ever designed specifically for migraines.

FDA-approved in May, this new medicine targets a protein called CGRP, related to migraines.

"What happens is when you release CGRP, the migraines can be can be more intense. Here we have a drug which can actually block the mechanism of CGRP," Baylor Headache Specialist Dr. Priyanka Chaudhry said.

Chaudhry says patients inject the medicine into their thigh or belly once a month. It can take up to four weeks to work, while traditional treatments might take up to 12 weeks.

Chaundhry also says it also doesn't come with severe side effects associated with traditional treatments.

Henderson went from three or more moderate to severe migraines each week to just one mild headache a week. And while there is no cure for migraines, Henderson can now manage them unlike never before.

"When I have no pain in my head, it's just heaven," Henderson said.

Three more drugmakers plan to release their version of the drug in the next two years.

Check with your doctor and health insurance to see if this medicine is right for you.

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