June 28 is recognized as Headache Disease Research Day, and in 2018 headache and migraine patients have more to be excited about than ever. After decades of advocacy, education and research, the number and quality of new treatments and prevention methods available and currently in-research has reached a new peak.
New Treatment Options
The FDA recently approved for marketing, the first treatment ever made available solely and specifically for migraine prevention, the CGRP drug Aimovig, and there are several more CGRP-related drugs (both inhibitors and antibodies) expected to be available in the next 18 months.
Another exciting option for treatment is an at-home neuromodulator, or electric stimulator. These devices send signals to the brain to reduce the severity of a migraine without the need for medication. Simply apply the neuromodulator device to the skin, and it will treat the problem nerves and dampen the pain. Neuromodulators can also be used preventatively as a part of a daily routine to protect the individual throughout the day. Currently, there are several products available, and more will be on the market soon.
Migraine treatments have greatly advanced in recent years, with the development of triptans more than two decades ago. However, those with vascular disease have historically been unable to use these options. New studies have shown data that 5-HT1f receptor agonists can stop migraine attacks without aggravating vascular diseases. While data is still being gathered on this new treatment, it has shown a history of success in studies.
Access to Care
Despite the fact that effective treatment options are flourishing, a recent study by the National Headache Foundation found that patients with chronic headache and migraine do not receive adequate access to potentially helpful treatment options. Whether it’s because they’re too expensive, not covered by insurance or simply not available in their area, too many patients are lacking these life-changing benefits. Major steps need to be made in elevating the voice of patients everywhere to increase the access to care and further research to improve treatment.
The future is bright for headache and migraine sufferers, as there are a number of quality and unique treatments flooding the pipeline. However, challenges still exist. The National Headache Foundation will continue to make sure patients voices are heard in the ongoing, productive research towards better, affordable care.