July 11 (UPI) -- A new drug may soon wipe out the pain associated with migraine headaches, new research shows.
Rimegepant has shown effectiveness in treating migraines and, pending FDA approval, could provide an alternative to current medications on the market, according to a study published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
"For the first time in nearly three decades, people with migraine not helped by existing medications may have a new option to find relief during attacks," Richard B. Lipton, a researcher at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and study first author, said in a news release.
The study included more than 1,000 people who have migraines and were prescribed either rimegepant or placebo tablets. The patients tracked the level of pain they felt before taking the tablet and 48 hours after. The choices of pain severity ranged from intolerance to light intolerance to loud sounds to nausea.
After only a couple of hours, 19.6 percent of patients taking rimegepant tablets had no pain versus only 12 percent from the placebo group. Close to 38 percent of patients taking rimegepant also reported that they felt some relief from migraine symptoms.
Rimegepant may eventually take the place of triptan for some patients, a drug often prescribed to people with migraines. Triptan prevents migraines by activating serotonin receptors, causing blood vessels to narrow and inflammation to subside. But constricting blood vessels can pose a danger to people with cardiovascular disease or any risk factors for the condition.
Compartively, rimegepant only causes nausea and other minimal side effects, the researchers say -- and the drug appears to be safe for people with cardiovascular disease.
The Department of Heath and Human Services estimates nearly 30 million have migraines and three out of four sufferers are women.
"These results confirm that rimegepant's mechanism of action -- blocking the CGRP pathway -- effectively relieves pain and associated symptoms that occur during acute migraine attacks," Lipton said. "As someone who has studied CGRP blockers for more than a decade, I'm gratified to see their benefits confirmed in a large-scale clinical trial."