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Papers of the Week

2020 Oct 15

Psychopharmacol Bull


4 Suppl 1

Lasmiditan for the Treatment of Migraines With or Without Aura in Adults.


Berger AA, Winnick A, Popovsky D, Kaneb A, Berardino K, Kaye AM, Cornett EM, Kaye AD, Viswanath O, Urits I
Psychopharmacol Bull. 2020 Oct 15; 50(4 Suppl 1):163-188.
PMID: 33633424.


Migraines are a common form of primary headache, affecting women more than men (17.4% and 5.7% of US population, respectively, a total of 12%) that carry significant morbidity and disability, as well as a hefty healthcare price tag. They are most prevalent in women of reproductive ages and are estimated to be the 6th disease in order of causing global burden. They are estimated to cause 45.1 million years lived with disability, or 2.9% of global years lost to disability. Migraine treatment divides into acute, abortive treatment for relief of an ongoing migraine attack, and prophylactic therapy to reduce the occurrence of migraines, specifically for patients suffering from chronic and frequent episodic migraines. Traditional abortive treatment usually begins with NSAID and non-specific analgesics that are effective in curbing mild to moderate attacks. 5HT-agonists, such as triptans, are often used for second-line and for severe attacks. Triptans are generally better tolerated in the longterm than NSAIDs and other analgesics, though they carry a significant side-effect profile and are contraindicated in large parts of the population. Prophylactic therapy is usually reserved for patients with frequent recurrence owing to medication side effects and overall poor adherence to the medication schedule. Importantly, medication overuse may actually lead to the development of chronic migraines from previously episodic attacks. Recent research has shed more light on the pathophysiology of migraine and the role of CGRP in the trigeminovascular system. Recent pharmacological advances were made in developing more specific drugs based on this knowledge, including CGRP neutralizing antibodies, receptor antagonists, and the development of ditans. These novel drugs are highly specific to peripheral and central 5-HT receptors and effective in the treatment of acute migraine attacks. Binding these receptors reduces the production of CGRP and Glutamate, two important ligands in the nociceptive stimulus involved with the generation and propagation of migraines. Several large clinical studies showed Lasmiditan to be effective in the treatment of acute migraine attacks. Importantly, due to its receptor specificity, it lacks the vasoconstriction that is associated with triptans and is thus safer is larger parts of the population, specifically in patients with cardiac and vascular disease. Though more research is required, specifically with aftermarket surveillance to elucidate rare potential side effects, Lasmiditan is a targeted anti-migraine drug that is both safe and effective, and carries an overall superior therapeutic profile to its predecessors. It joins the array of medications that target CGRP signaling, such as gepants and CGRP-antibodies, to establish a new line of care for this common disabling condition.