The EMA has approved Norvartis’ Aimovig (erenumab), making it Europe’s first treatment specifically designed to prevent migraine.

The drug works by blocking the calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor, thought to be involved in the transmission of the pain signals associated with migraine.

Migraine is a complex and debilitating neurological condition that affects each individual differently. Over 610,000 people in the UK are estimated to experience chronic migraine, with the 2010 Equality Act classing migraine as a disability should the condition have a long term, substantial impact on day to day or work-related activities.

Research shows that around £9.7 billion a year is lost in the UK alone due to migraine through direct (treating patients) and indirect (lost productivity) costs, yet migraine remains the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses relative to its economic impact.

“Erenumab has been shown to reduce the average number of monthly migraine days in both episodic and chronic migraine patients, including those who have tried existing treatment options,” said Professor Zameel Cader, Consultant Neurologist at the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Oxford Headache Centre. “Today’s news represents a new approach for the clinical community in our ability to treat those that suffer most with migraine.”

Initial decisions on erenumab for the prevention of migraine from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the Scottish Medicine Consortium (SMC) are expected in 2019. Novartis says it is working closely with all stakeholders to ensure eligible patients can start benefiting from this treatment as quickly as possible. A bespoke patient support programme and range of resources are also being developed in order to provide support to patients and healthcare professionals.