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Papers of the Week

Papers: 21 Sep 2019 - 27 Sep 2019

Pharmacology/Drug Development


2019 Nov

CNS Drugs



Recent Advances in Pharmacotherapy for Episodic Migraine.


Chan C, Goadsby PJ
CNS Drugs. 2019 Nov; 33(11):1053-1071.
PMID: 31556018.


In 2018, three calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) pathway monoclonal antibodies, erenumab, fremanezumab and galcanezumab, were approved in various parts of the world, including Europe and the US, and another, eptinezumab, is pending, for the prevention of migraine. In this article, episodic migraine treatment is reviewed, although these medicines are approved and are just as effective for chronic migraine. These new medicines usher a new phase in the preventive management of migraine with migraine-specific treatments. Data from phase III trials of CGRP pathway monoclonal antibodies have shown they are efficacious, with adverse effect rates comparable to placebo. The combination of clear efficacy and excellent tolerability will be welcome in an area where poor adherence to current preventives is common. Rimegepant, ubrogepant and lasmiditan are migraine-specific acute therapies yet to be approved by regulators. Phase III data for the respective CGRP receptor antagonists, the gepants, and the serotonin 5-HT receptor agonist, the ditan, have been positive and free of cardiovascular adverse effects. These medicines are not vasoconstrictors. When approved, they could meet the acute therapy demand of patients with cardiovascular risk factors where triptans are contraindicated. Beyond this, gepants will see the most disruptive development in migraine management in generations with medicines that can have both acute and preventive effects, the latter evidenced by data from the discontinued drug telcagepant and the early-phase drug atogepant. Moreover, one can expect no risk of medication overuse syndromes with gepants since the more patients take, the less migraines they have. During the next years, as experience with monoclonal antibodies grows in clinical practice, we can expect an evolution in migraine management to take shape. Clinicians will be able to offer treatment patients want rather than trying to fit migraineurs into therapeutic boxes for their management. Despite pessimistic susurrations of a largely addlepated form, many patients, and physicians, will welcome new options, and the challenges of new treatment paradigms, with optimism.