New Migraine Drug Promising
May Help Patients Who Don’t Respond to Triptans
WebMD News Archive
June 7, 2007 - New migraine pain relief may be on the way for the 28 million
American sufferers, shows a promising new study.
A new migraine drug under study that works differently than medications
currently on the market provided pain relief for more than two-thirds of
those who tried it, says Tony Ho, MD, senior director of clinical neuroscience
at Merck Research Laboratories in North Wales, Pa., who presented the
findings at this week's annual meeting of the American Headache Society in
"It also had a very good duration of action," he tells WebMD.
"This effect lasted over 24 hours."
The new drug, for now called MK-0974, may eventually help the 30% of
migraine sufferers who don't get relief from -- or can't take -- triptans, a
current mainstay of migraine treatment to stop migraine pain and
Other experts not involved in the study agreed the new drug looks promising.
It's not expected on the market, however, until at least 2009.
MK-0974 in a New Class
MK-0974 is one of a new type of medications with a tongue-twisting name:
It's an oral calcitonin-gene-related peptide receptor antagonist, or CGRP
CGRP is a type of brain chemical called a peptide that experts now know
plays a role in migraines. ''The CGRP peptide was discovered in 1982, and in
the early 1990s researchers started speculating about its role," Ho
Experts know that CGRP levels are elevated during a migraine. And in
studies, when CGRP is given to migraine sufferers, it can produce a migraine
headache, Ho says.
"When the neuropeptide CGRP gets released, the migraine pain gets
worse," Ho tells WebMD. "We think it's involved in the majority of
The new drug works by blocking CGRP. Triptans, in contrast, work on another
brain chemical called serotonin. Triptan-type migraine medications
constrict blood vessels during a migraine and help relieve related migraine
symptoms including pain. However, because of their effects on blood
vessels, triptans can't be taken by those who have had heart disease and
certain other health problems.
Ho and his team studied the safety and effectiveness of MK-0974 in 420
migraine patients, mostly women, whose average age was 41. Women are more
likely than men to suffer from migraines. The participants typically had one to
six migraines every month. The participants were given either the new drug
(MK-0974), a commonly used triptan called Maxalt, or a placebo pill.