First migraine prevention drug approved for European use

The first ever drug specifically designed to prevent a migraine has been given the green light by European health officials.

Erenumab is now expected to be considered by English and Scottish health agencies to assess whether it is appropriate for NHS use.

But manufacturer Novartis said that patients will be able to get the drug privately in September after the European Medicines Agency approved a licence for the drug for patients who have at least four migraines a month.

The drug, also known as aimovig, was designed to block the calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor, thought to be involved in migraine activation.

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Chronic migraines affect more than 600,000 people across the UK. There is currently no cure for migraines, although a number of treatments are available to help ease the symptoms.

Novartis said that the drug is the first and only licensed treatment specifically designed to prevent migraine.

It can be self-administered at home once a month with an auto-injector pen.

The drug has been shown in trials to halve the average number of days patients suffer from a migraine in a month.

"Erenumab is the first and only licensed treatment specifically designed to prevent migraine, demonstrating our commitment to developing innovative therapies for people living with some of the most debilitating conditions," said Haseeb Ahmad, country president of Novartis UK and managing director for UK and Ireland of Novartis Pharmaceuticals.

Comenting on the news, Wendy Thomas, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said: "We think this decision is wonderful as this new treatment has the potential to help many people with chronic and episodic migraine.

"Migraine is incredibly painful, and has symptoms that include vomiting and visual disturbance, so getting it frequently can literally ruin lives.

"That is why it is important that it becomes available to patients as soon as possible."