New pill to prevent migraines will be offered to thousands of people on NHS
Up to 145,000 people will be eligible for the drug Rimegepant to combat migraines
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Thousands of people who suffer from migraines will be offered a new pill on the NHS which helps to prevent headaches.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) approved the drug Rimegepant for use as an option for preventing migraines, with up to 145,000 people in England to be eligible if previous treatments have failed.
The drug is taken as a wafer table which dissolves under the tongue and is the first oral treatment for migraines to be recommended for NHS use. It works by blocking the activation of a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (or CGRP) in the brain, which can cause inflammation in blood vessels which triggers a migraine attack.
The pill is made by Pfizer, the same pharmaceutical company that developed one of the Covid-19 vaccines, and it is recommended for adults who have at least four migraine attacks each month, but fewer than 15.
Migraine attacks usually last between four and 72 hours and can cause symptoms such as disturbed vision, sensitivity to light and sound, feeling sick and vomiting.
Nice says more than 5.6 million people in England are thought to suffer from episodic migraines and around 190,000 attacks are experienced every day.
Beta-blockers, antidepressants and epilepsy medicine are used to try to help with the headaches, but these can have significant side-effects and can be ineffective, according to Nice.
Helen Knight, Nice director of medicines evaluation, said: “Each year the lives of millions of people in England are blighted by migraine attacks. They can be extremely debilitating and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.
“In comments received during consultation on the previous draft guidance, patients and carers described migraine as an invisible disability that affects all aspects of life including family, social activities, mental health, finances and education.
“Rimegepant is the first oral treatment for migraine to be recommended by Nice and for many thousands of people it is likely to be a welcome and more convenient addition to existing options for a condition that is often overlooked and undertreated.”
The draft guidance has been approved and final guidance is expected next month if there are no appeals.
Toby Cousens, head of hospital and internal medicine at Pfizer UK, said: “On top of debilitating physical symptoms, migraine can place significant pressure on the professional and personal lives of those living with it, including being forced to take time off work.
“Today’s decision is a positive step forward to help meet the care needs of eligible patients in England and Wales.
“We are committed to improving the lives of those living with the burden of migraine and will continue to work with Nice and other health bodies in the UK to help further enhance access and care.”