Migraine patients urge health chefs to make a decision to & # 39; change life & # 39; not to offer medicines to the NHS in England
- A monthly injection called erenumab prevents almost half of the migraine attacks
- Approved by NHS Scotland in April, but still not available for patients in England
- NHS watchdog NICE rejected the drug and claimed £ 5,000-year costs were too expensive
- Patients say it is life-changing – stopping the debilitating headache and nausea
Chronic migraine patients in England argue for a & # 39; life-changing & # 39; make medication available to the NHS.
A monthly injection of erenumab, the first new migraine drug for 20 years, has been praised by patients who have tried it.
It was approved in Scotland in April, but in one fell swoop for over 500,000 people, NHS watchdog NICE rejected it in England because of the high costs.
The treatment, developed by British scientists with NHS funding during the last three decades, has been privately available since September for £ 386 a month.
In April, erenumab – sold under the brand name Aimovig – was approved by NHS Scotland, but it is not yet available for patients in England
Patients say that erenumab – sold under the Aimovig brand name – completely stops the debilitating headache and nausea that can harm people's lives.
Nathan Gayle, 28, gets about 20 headache days a month.
The London citizen told the BBC: & # 39; If I have a migraine that I can't see, every sound gives me unbearable pain, strange smells hurt, light is a clear no-go, I get really dizzy and I can't get up .
& # 39; I have tried so many types of medication – I have not found anything that can stop or prevent it. If Aimovig were to work, it would change my life. & # 39;
Mr. Gayle was a class assistant but had to quit because he was taking too much sick leave.
He asked to make erenumab available in England so that he could go back to work.
WHAT IS ERENUMAB?
Erenumab is the first in a new class of drugs to tackle the protein responsible for the pain and nausea associated with migraine.
The protein – called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) – causes blood vessels to become intertwined with nerve endings in the head to swell.
Erenumab blocks that process.
Described as one of the few genuine & # 39; holy grails & # 39; of medical research, an injection to address real migraine is sought by some of & # 39; the world's largest drug company & # 39; s.
Erenumab is the first new migraine treatment since Triptans – medicines that caused but did not cause migraine symptoms – were developed in 1997.
It was developed over the past 30 years by Professor Peter Goadsby of King & College London, who gave away intellectual property to the drug when he published his first studies on CGRP in the 1990s.
Erenumab was created by a collaboration between drug giant Novartis and Amgen, but three other companies – Teva, Eli Lilly and Alder – are developing that are developing very similar drugs in an attempt to gain a share of a global market worth an estimated £ 6.5 billion a year.
NICE officials admitted that erenumab had a & # 39; promising & # 39; is treatment that has been shown to be & # 39; clinically effective & # 39; is.
But they said the drug company – pharmaceutical giant Novartis – did not provide any evidence that it is better than Botox, which is often used by desperate migraine patients.
Because of this gap in evidence, officials believe the high price of the drug – nearly £ 5,000 a year minus a confidential discount offered to the NHS – means that it cannot be cost-effective.
Novartis pointed out that Botox – designed as a cosmetic procedure but proven to help migraine patients – requires up to 40 injections into the head and neck by a trained clinic specialist.
Erenumab is self-administered in the thigh or abdomen with an injection pen.
More than eight million Britons – three-quarters of them women – suffer from migraine attacks, which cause dizziness, nausea and headache. Figures estimate that 38 million have been affected in the US.
Attacks can last from four to 72 hours.
The problem affects more people than diabetes, asthma and epilepsy combined – and is the sixth most common cause of disability in the world.
However, until now there has been no treatment specifically designed to prevent the problem, with patients instead receiving beta-blockers, antidepressants and botox to avert the crippling attacks.
Last July, the drug received European patients with a medical license who suffer from migraine for at least four days a month and who have previously tried three types of oral treatment.
Approved by NICE would mean that around 500,000 people in the UK would benefit, although this could increase if the thresholds were lowered in the future.
VIOLINIST THAT HAS BEEN TAKEN BY MIGRAINES FOR 30 BUT DESCRIBES THE MIGRAINE TREATMENT AS & # 39; LIFE-CHANGING & # 39;
Caroline Marshall has been suffering from terrible, debilitating migraine for 30 years
Caroline Marshall has been suffering from terrible, debilitating migraine for 30 years.
Almost every day she would be knocked down by an unbearable attack.
& # 39; I normally only had six migraine-free days a month & # 39 ;, said Ms. Marshall, 65.
& # 39; I have tried every available treatment – botox, epilepsy medications, triptans – I have tried them all.
& # 39; It affects my speech, it affects my vision, my sense of balance, and if I am really sick, I cannot move. & # 39;
She has been a professional violinist at the Scottish Ballet for the last 35 years and has found it almost impossible to continue working.
& # 39; I have had to remember most of the classical ballet repertoire because it is sometimes too painful to look at the music. I think it's great, but it has taken perseverance. & # 39;
In September, a week after it became available in Britain, Ms. Marshall attempted a breakthrough in the erenumab migraine treatment for the first time.
& # 39; It was instantaneous, the migraine just collapsed. & # 39;
Since then she has had three full months without a migraine.
& # 39; It's life changing & # 39 ;, said the mother of two from Edinburgh.
Because it is not available on the NHS, Mrs. Marshall and her husband Julian, 61, paid privately for treatment.
"It is almost £ 100 a week so that is a big expense for the family," she said. & # 39; But everyone in the family is affected – they have looked around for a lifetime – so the costs are no longer important. & # 39;
Mrs. Marshall says her daughters Zoe, 30 and Leila, 25 – also musicians – are very worried about getting the condition herself.
& # 39; I hope it will be made available to the NHS for chronic patients, & # 39; she said.
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