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Papers of the Week

Papers: 4 Nov 2023 - 10 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 09

Adv Ther


Unmet Needs in the Acute Treatment of Migraine.


Bentivegna E, Galastri S, Onan D, Martelletti P


Migraine represents the most common neurologic disorder, ranking second among the world’s causes of disability [expressed as years lived with disability (YLDs)]. Patients often do not receive the best therapy because of safety issues, tolerance, and prescription accessibility. General practitioners are not always educated about the disease, and specialists are few and often difficult to reach. Therapies are limited and have many side effects that can impede the prescription. Prophylactic therapy is recommended in case of four or more headaches a month, eight or more headache days a month, debilitating headaches, and medication-overuse headaches. The available therapeutic options are in constant development. The classic one consists of non-specific drugs: β-blockers, tricyclics, antiepileptics, and botulinum toxin. Monoclonal antibodies targeting the calcitonin gene receptor (CGRP) peptide or its receptor are the only ones specifically designed to treat migraine. Their efficiency and convenient safety profile have been demonstrated in a number of trials versus both placebo and classic therapies. The treatment of acute migraine attack consists of medications designed to affect the painful symptoms. For over 30 years, the cornerstones of treatment in clinical practice have continued to be represented by triptans and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), with the well-know related adverse effects. Opioids are used inappropriately and overprescribed. Polytherapy is strongly not recommended but is still a common practice because treatment is not optimized and thus not efficient. Great promise comes from gepants, also targeting CGRP, and ditans, 5-HT1F receptor agonists. They seem to outweigh the risk of medication overuse headache because of their efficacy and rapid onset and have no cardiovascular contraindications. Nonetheless, these points remain to be confirmed. Although therapies have been implemented in the last years, significant unmet treatment needs remain a reality in patients’ lives. This commentary aims to identify the most important unmet needs in the acute treatment of migraine, analyzing the current status of available therapies and their limits. We also analyzed some of the prophylactic therapies available, especially focusing on anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies, to better understand the importance of setting a therapeutic strategy that includes the two modes, both acute and prophylactic, to reach the best result. We hope that having an overview of the shortcomings will help to provide constructive ideas for improvement.