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Anti-CGRP Medications for Migraine

Posted on September 11, 2019



Many members of MyMigraineTeam struggle with recurring migraines that don’t respond to traditional treatments. Since a new class of drugs designed to prevent migraines hit the market in 2018, members have frequently discussed their hopes, fears, and experiences surrounding these medications. “Has anyone had any luck with Aimovig injections?” asked one member. “I just started my first injection today. I have chronic migraine and nothing I have tried in the past has helped. Hoping this will work for me!”

Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonists, also known as anti-CGRP drugs, are believed to work by blocking the activation of a substance involved in pain processes, including the start of migraines. Anti-CGRP drugs are monoclonal antibodies also known as biologic drugs meaning they are genetically-engineered proteins used by the immune system to identify and neutralize substances. Due to the way biologics work in the body, they must be taken by injection. So far, there are three drugs in this class: Aimovig, Ajovy, and Emgality.

MyMigraineTeam members report a mix of experiences with anti-CGRP medications. Many have positive results. “Anyone tried Aimovig injections?” asked one member. “My neurologist/migraine specialist wants me to start them.” One member replied, “I'm on my third month of Aimovig, and it's AMAZING (for me). I noticed a difference after two weeks, and my twice a day debilitating migraines have been bearable and reduced by 50 percent.” Another responded, “I have been taking Aimovig for five months now and I went 30 days without a migraine!!!” In one conversation about Emgality, a member wrote, “I went from having severe migraines every single day to maybe two a month. Last month I only had one.”

Other members share that the drugs did not work for them or caused intolerable side effects. “It hasn’t helped me 😞,” reported one member. “I've tried Aimovig and Emgality,” said another member. “[With] the Aimovig I had horrible stay-in-bed menstrual cramps, leg cramps, severe hot flashes, and broke out everywhere with little-to-no help with the migraines. Then [with] the Emgality I woke up next day swollen in the face and half the tongue.” A different member said, “I have tried Ajovy, and it made my migraine worse.”

Many members balk at the out-of-pocket cost of these new treatments. Some describe trouble getting their insurance companies to cover anti-CGRP medications at all. Cost varies by each medication and different types of health insurance, but some members describe paying hundreds for each injection. “It’s terrible what it costs, I’m at my wits’ end. Using up my savings!” Other members are quick to point out copay assistance programs from the drug manufacturers: “BTW, ask your doctor for a coupon card. This card is from the Ajovy company. Take it to your pharmacy. I pay only $20 for it with this coupon. Otherwise the cost, with insurance, is $125!”

Each of the three drug manufacturers offers a savings program or access card. You can get details about each program and find out if you’re eligible at these links:

Like with most migraine drugs, the effectiveness and side effects of CGRP antagonists vary from person to person. If you are curious about trying an anti-CGRP medication, talk to your doctor about which might work best for you, and whether your medical history and any other health conditions you have might raise your risk for certain side effects.


Here are some conversations about anti-CGRP medications:
 

 

Here are some question-and-answer threads about CGRP antagonists:
 


Have you taken any anti-CGRP medications? Are you considering trying one? Comment below or post on MyMigraineTeam.

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