Thousands of people could get new pill to combat migraines

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Thousands of people could soon be able to take a new pill to combat migraine headaches after it was recommended to the NHS in England.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (Nice) draft guidance published on Wednesday recommended the drug Rimegepant as an option for preventing migraines in up to 145,000 adults, if previous treatments have failed.

The Migraine Society says attacks usually last between four and 72 hours and symptoms include disturbed vision, sensitivity to light and sound, feeling sick and vomiting.

Nice says more than 5.6 million people in England are thought to have 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 can have significant side-effects and can be ineffective, according to Nice.

Injections are also used to try to solve migraines, Nice added.

The draft guidance recommends the pill, made by Pfizer, for adults who have at least four migraine attacks a month but fewer than 15.

Rimegepant is taken as a wafer which dissolves under the tongue.

Final guidance is expected next month if there are no appeals.

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“In comments received during consultation on the previous draft guidance, patients and carers described migraine as an invisible disability that affects all aspects of life including family, social activities, mental health,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.”

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.”

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