A tremendous time of hope for people with migraine
Anti-CGRP therapies are specifically designed for treating and preventing migraine. In the last three years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved six anti-CGRPs for migraine treatment. “It’s a tremendous, tremendous time of hope for people with migraine,” said Dr. Stewart Tepper, an American Migraine Foundation and American Headache Society Board Member and headache specialist.
Dr. Tepper recently participated in a webinar panel to discuss what CGRPs meant for the migraine community. Seeking Migraine Relief with Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptides: What, When, and for Whom? was a collaboration between the American Migraine Foundation, National Headache Foundation and Neurocare Live to bring medical education to patients.
We spoke to Dr. Tepper more about what this new class of migraine treatment means for patients and the importance of advocacy.
A new class of migraine specific treatment
During the webinar, Dr. Tepper provided viewers an overview of the traditional medications for migraine, including over-the-counter medications and triptans. Before anti-CGRPs, triptans were the last migraine-specific class of treatment to come out, and that was in the 1990s. While many people with migraine use triptans to successfully stop migraine attacks, Dr. Tepper notes that they are not a perfect solution. Not everyone can take triptans, especially people with uncontrolled high blood pressure, or history of heart attack or stroke, and they also can lead to medication overuse headache.
Dr. Tepper explained that anti-CGRP treatments were designed to target CGRP. It’s a protein involved in generating the head pain associated with migraine. They do this by blocking the CGRP from attaching to its receptor, thereby blocking the pain signal. Alternatively, they take CGRP out of circulation. In comparison with traditional medications, anti-CGRPs have fewer side effects and can be used by more people. This is partly due to the fact that the antibodies do not cross into the brain, while at the same time, the kidney or liver don’t process them.
The importance of migraine advocacy
Webinar attendees also had the opportunity to hear from two patient advocates and learn tips and tricks for speaking with their doctors about these new medications and practicing migraine advocacy. Looking back on her years of living with migraine, AMF Board Member Deborah Henscheid Lorenz shared that she wished she had kept a list of medications she had tried through various doctors so she could share that with her current provider.
AMF Executive Director Nim Lalvani spoke about the importance of keeping a headache diary or headache journal in order to have a productive conversation with your healthcare provider. The American Migraine Foundation worked with doctors to create a free, downloadable guide to help patients start the conversation about migraine with their doctor.
The goal of the webinar was to share the latest in migraine treatment with patients and give them the tools they need to advocate for their care. The more that people know, the more they can advocate, the more they can seek out providers who are sympathetic or educated,” says Dr. Tepper, “It can only have good results.”