Regular migraine sufferer Barbara Tesio-Ryan endures four monthly episodes of incapacitating migraines that render her speechless and possessing blurred vision. Her debilitating experience, she gravely admits, mirrors that of a stroke, accompanied by unbearable pain enveloping her entire head. The consequent sickness from abrupt movements confines her to hours of solitude in the darkness, typically lasting four hours. Subsequent recovery demands a day or two, wherein she combats exhaustion and a disoriented state she likens to a ‘migraine hangover’. Causal elements of these attack can vary from stress, lack of sleep to excessive caffeine or sunlight intake.
Recently, Barbara moved residences and was ill throughout the entire weekend, an example of how migraines can brutally interrupt everyday life. As a librarian, she often cannot attend work when an episode surfaces, an occurrence that happens about four times a month. She first experienced such pain at the tender age of eight and has since sought every kind of therapeutic solution from medication to acupuncture, with little to no significant relief. Consequently, the upcoming availability of a revolutionary drug called rimegepant, specifically designed to alleviate migraines, fills Barbara with hope and the prospect of significant life change.
Rimegepant, a Pfizer-incubated medicine alternatively known as Vydura, is dissolvable under the tongue. The National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) judges it a cost-effective option for managing the onset of migraine attacks, presenting promising opportunities for individuals experiencing debilitating side effects from existing medication, those who have not yet found a working treatment, or those with pre-existing conditions barring them from current treatments, such as heart disease.
Interestingly, some patients find no relief in commonly prescribed medicines like triptans, ibuprofen, or paracetamol. For these individuals, seeking a migraine specialist’s input is advised, despite the often prolonged wait periods for an appointment. Helen Knight, Director of The Migraine Trust, identifies rimegepant as the maiden NICE-backed treatment that promises to ease acute migraines’ distress and constitutes a radical shift in treatment approaches.
Approximately one in seven people suffer from migraines, impacting varied life areas, including work, mental health, and social activities. Migraines are more prevalent in women than men and predominantly afflict individuals aged between 35 to 45. Robert Music, CEO of The Migraine Trust, emphasizes the condition as particularly misunderstood and foresees the new treatment to bring relief and reduce the pain and duration of a migraine attack. Annually, nearly 10 million people in the UK combat migraines, with around one million enduring chronic migraines, defined as frequent headaches experienced at least 15 days per month.
Migraines are understood to be the result of irregular brain activity that disrupts nerve signals, chemicals, and blood vessels in the brain. The precise causes remain obscure yet many sufferers are believed to have a genetic predisposition. All in all, this innovative treatment signifies a beacon of hope for the millions plagued by this “invisible disability.”