A monthly shot designed to prevent migraines was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, opening the door for an expensive yet revolutionary therapy.
The drug, called Aimovig, is an exciting new option for patients and doctors not only for its preventative capabilities, but for its minimal side-effects as well.
“During trials, the side-effects for the most part were the same as the placebo, which is pretty amazing,” headache neurologist at NYU Langone Health, Dr. Thomas Berk, told the Daily News. “Its ability to prevent migraines without serious side effects makes it almost the perfect combination of risk and reward.”
To compare, current treatment options for migraine sufferers each come with a battery of negative and sometimes debilitating effects. Injections like the wrinkle filler Botox can cause dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and anti-depressants often make users gain weight. Dr. Berk said the only reaction of note that patients reported with Aimovig was some soreness at the injection site.
Aimovig is administered the same way that people with diabetes inject themselves with insulin. Dr. Berk said that he believes doctors will give their patients the initial dose and then monitor them to be sure they don’t experience a reaction. From there, migraine sufferers will be able to do it themselves each month.
But the alleged wonder-shot comes with a steep price tag. Its makers, Amgen and Novartis, estimate that it could run users $6,900 a year.
“The main issue for most will be getting it covered by insurance,” Berk told The News, “it’s very expensive. People who have tried other methods in the past that failed them may be able to get their insurance providers to cover some of it but since it was just approved yesterday, we’ll have to see.”
If the drug lives up to its performance in trials, the cost might be overlooked by those — like the estimated 2.8 million Americans — who experience agonizing symptoms multiple times a month.