Disability Insurance Blog

FDA Approves Migraine Drug as First Cluster Headache Treatment

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Monday, June 10th, 2019

Our clients include people who are disabled by severe migraine headaches, so we are pleased to see this news item that the FDA has approved a drug that treats this condition.

As reported in NBC News, cluster headaches impact younger men, and one of the problems, in addition to the pain and frustration of the headaches, is that the drugs used previously to mitigate the headaches have nasty side effects.

The new treatment has been shown to significantly reduce the number of attacks from an average of eight headaches a week to five per week, and the side effects are minimal. The drug, Emgality, from Eli Lilly and Company belongs to a new class of pharmaceuticals that are called CGRP inhibitors. They are used to prevent migraines or reduce their frequency.

Migraine Cluster Headache

That’s good news, but five of these cluster headaches a week are still extremely challenging. Also we note that the study was only for eight weeks. From our experience, that’s a surprisingly short period of study time for the FDA to provide approval for the drugs to be put on the market. But it also indicates how high the demand is for a solution to migraine headaches.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, cluster headaches affect as many as one million people in the United States. Like migraines, they cause intense pain and make it impossible for people to function when they occur. Unlike ‘regular’ migraines, which tend to be experienced by women, cluster migraines are more likely to be experienced by men between the ages of 20 – 40.

The problem with migraines, as any sufferer can tell you, is that they are unpredictable. A person may not have any problems for a month, then suffer a series of attacks that last anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. The frequency and intensity of migraine headaches and the time it takes to recover from them makes it impossible for people to function in their day to day tasks.

Source: NBC News (June 5, 2019) “FDA approves migraine drug as the first cluster headache treatment”