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Papers of the Week

Papers: 19 Aug 2023 - 25 Aug 2023


Human Studies, Neurobiology, Pharmacology/Drug Development


2023 Aug 18

J Med Econ


Meta-regression to explain the placebo effects in clinical trials of anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies for migraine prevention.


Regnier SA, Lee XY


Commonly used methods of comparison (e.g., network meta-analyses) require common comparator(s) across trials, such as placebo in placebo-controlled trials. Recent literature indicates that route of administration differences across placebo arms of clinical trials in pain disorders may contribute to differences in placebo effect. We conducted a meta-regression on placebo data from pivotal clinical trials of anti-calcitonin gene-related peptide (anti-CGRP) monoclonal antibodies for migraine prevention to quantify the impact of route of administration, migraine type (episodic/chronic), and number of prior treatment failures on placebo reduction in monthly migraine days (MMDs) across weeks 1-12 of treatment. A systematic literature review of Embase, MEDLINE, the Cochrane Library, and grey literature conducted in June 2021 identified relevant 14 randomized, placebo-controlled trials for analysis. After testing models with different covariates, a meta-regression was fitted to the extracted placebo data with the covariates of route of administration, migraine type, and proportion of patients with ≥2 prior preventive treatment failures. An intravenous route of administration for the placebo arm was a predictor for higher MMD reduction. Predictors of lower MMD reduction were migraine type (episodic migraine) and a higher proportion of patients having ≥2 failed preventive treatments. The efficacy of intravenous anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies are likely underestimated, and differences in the route of administration of placebo may necessitate use of alternative methods that do not assume the presence of a common comparator when comparing anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies in migraine prevention. Further research into the contextual effects of the placebo effect is warranted.