The drug erenumab has been shown to reduce the frequency of migraines and improve migraine patients’ quality of life in studies that have lasted between 3 and 12 months. However, there has thus far been little research on the long-term effects of this particular therapeutic strategy. Treating migraine is known to be a complex challenge, and people who suffer from migraines are often dissatisfied with the treatments they try because they do not reliably reduce the frequency or intensity of their migraines.
Given the importance of developing therapies with long-term benefits for migraine patients, a new study, published in the European Journal of Neurology, has investigated the effects of erenumab on patients with episodic migraines over a period of 5 years. For the open-label, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 383 patients were studied. These patients began on a 70 mg dose of erenumab, which eventually increased to 140 mg. The effects of the treatment were analyzed based on the change in the number of days that migraines were experienced each month, the change in how many days each month the patients had to take medication for their migraines, and any changes in quality of life.
The results showed that erenumab was associated with migraine frequency reductions as well as quality of life improvements that lasted over the 5 year duration during which patients were studied. Specifically, patients experienced improvements related to disability as well as to the impact of their headaches. Patients taking erenumab experienced a reduction in the number of days each month on which they experienced migraines and needed treatment.
Most adverse events were manageable and consisted of nasopharyngitis, influenza, and upper respiratory tract infections. The serious adverse events that occurred in 49 patients tended to involve a single occurrence. However, two patients suffered fatal adverse events.
The findings from this randomized clinical trial demonstrate the potential power of erenumab to provide long-term relief for episodic migraine patients. However, more research is needed to understand the specific impact of this drug on patients and how it could be used by physicians, to safely and effectively treat this group of patients.
Ashina, M. et al. (2021). Long-term efficacy and safety of erenumab in migraine prevention: results from a 5-year, open label treatment phase of a randomized clinical trial. European Journal of Neurology. doi: 10.1111/ene.14715.