New migraine drugs in the pipeline

Two new migraine drugs are about to be released on the market. They were mentioned in this blog in their earlier stages of development. Another two drugs are more interesting, but are several years away from becoming available (if at all).

Zecuity is a patch that delivers sumatriptan (active ingredient in Imitrex) through the skin. The patch contains a small battery and the electric current it generates helps the medicine penetrate through the skin. The patch is particularly useful when migraine is accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The main side effect of the patch, compared to the tablet, is that it causes irritation of the skin in one third of patients. This product was already approved by the FDA and will be soon available in pharmacies from its manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Levadex is a drug inhaled into the lungs using a device similar to those used for asthma drugs. It contains dihydroergotamine – a very old and very effective injectable drug. Dihydroergotamine does not work well in a nasal spray (Migranal) or when taken by mouth. Levadex causes less side effects, such as nausea, than the injection of this drug. The main target population for this drug is also migraine sufferers who experience nausea and vomiting and for whom tablets do not work. Because it works very fast it may be also very effective for those whose headache starts and escalates to a severe intensity very quickly, which includes not only migraine, but also cluster headache sufferers. Levadex is manufactured by Allergan, the company that also makes Botox. It should be available in the next few months.

Lasmitidan is a new drug being developed by CoLucid. It is in phase III trials, which is the final phase, which if successful, can lead to the FDA approval. Lasmitidan is a new type of drug – it targets a specific serotonin receptor subtype – 1F, while triptans (sumatriptan, rizatriptan, and other) target 1B and 1D serotonin receptors. It may have the advantage of not constricting arteries at all and may be allowed in patients with coronary artery disease. Triptans are contraidicated in such patients.

Merck is developing a drug, which does not have a name yet, only a number – MK-1602. It is a CGRP receptor antagonist – a blocker of a neurotransmitter in the brain that is involved in migraine origination. It is in phase II trials. MK-1602 also has the advantage of not constricting arteries. At least two other companies are developing CGRP antibodies (different from CGRP antagonists) and they were mentioned in a recent post here.

  1. Dr. Mauskop says: 03/13/20176:57 pm

    Just in case you stumble upon this post, Zecuity has been taken off the market because it caused serious skin irritation in a significant number of patients

  2. E. Bradley says: 06/04/20149:48 pm

    Thank you for posting this information about new drugs in the pipeline. It gives hope to those of us who suffer from chronic migraine. I just recently discovered this blog, and it is very helpful. Please keep the good information coming!

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