Migraine breakthrough as millions of sufferers to get new pill on NHS for very first time

By Staff 5 Min Read

Around 10 million people in the UK suffer migraines, with women more likely to be affected – but sufferers often get drugs intended for other conditions, such as beta-blockers

A pill that tackles the causes of migraines is being offered on the NHS for the first time.

Atogepant stops the release of a protein around the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide, which causes painful inflammation. Around 10 million people in the UK suffer migraines, with women more likely to be affected. Symptoms include intense head pain and changes to the senses. But sufferers often get drugs intended for other conditions, such as beta-blockers, usually taken to lower health /ten-ways-banish-high-blood-9621402>blood pressure.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence said Atogepant will be offered to patients in England and Wales with migraines at least four times a month who have tried three other treatments.

Around 170,000 will be eligible in England. Rob Music, Chief Executive of The Migraine Trust, said: “It is positive to see more therapies emerging. We need to ensure access is swift.”

Until now migraine sufferers were offered injections to tackle the cause of migraines or tried drugs for other linked conditions – such as beta-blockers, antidepressants and epilepsy medications.

Lucy Wells, from Cardiff, told how she felt she had to resign from two previous jobs due to problems managing 25 migraine days each month. A mother of two teenage boys, she said: “Migraines have really curtailed my life. Living with migraine is life-shattering. It’s incredibly lonely and debilitating. I was told I was not resilient enough and that I needed to manage my stress better… I became very depressed.”

The first approved oral drug for migraines, rimegepant, is only available to the 13,000 patients hospitalised due to acute migraines annually. Atogepant, brand name Aquipta, was already app-roved in Scotland. Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said the drug would help people “live their lives to the fullest”.

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