Health Watch: Once a month migraine treatment

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Once A Month Migraine Treatment

More than 36 million Americans suffer from migraines, while more than 11 million blame migraines for causing moderate to severe disability. But now, there's hope, a breakthrough medication that shows great promise in preventing migraines, or making them less severe.

Seventy-one-year-old Karen Muzzy has suffered severe migraines for 50 years. She takes a wide assortment of daily and rescue medications to deal with them.

"I take a beta-blocker, I take two seizure drugs, and I take an anti-depressant," said Karen.

When migraines are especially bad, she can inject herself with a muscle relaxer, some Benadryl, or take a steroid, plus nausea medicine. The medications make her feel drowsy. She hopes to replace most of these drugs with just one, administered once a month in a pen-like device.

Karen said, "Some day this will be my single medication as opposed to having all these on hand."

This drug, aimovig, and two others recently approved by the FDA are called CGRP monoclonal antibodies. They block the pathology that causes migraines. It is helping to reduce Karen's severe migraines from 16 to four per month.

Priyanka Chaudhry, MD, Fellowship Program Director-Headache Medicine and Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas A&M Health Sciences Center, Baylor Neuroscience Center-Headache Center from Baylor Scott & White Health said, "We have not had a migraines specific drug in several years, so definitely this is like the most exciting phase in the headache world right now."

Dr. Chaudhry has been treating Karen for years, even getting her to keep a headache diary.

"I think she definitely feels her quality of life has tremendously improved after starting this new medication." said Chaudhry.

For Karen and her husband, life has changed dramatically for the better. She doesn't feel the side effects of so many drugs.

"I think she's enjoying life a lot more," said Mike Muzzy, Karen's husband.

The only challenge for patients may be the cost. One monthly dose costs $575. An appeal to Medicare cut the price for Karen in half. She and her husband say the relief is worth the high price.
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