13th January 2020

Life-changing migraine medication approved for use within NHS Scotland

Approved to treat both chronic and episodic migraine

We welcome today’s announcement by the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) that Fremanezumab (Ajovy) has been accepted for restricted use within NHS Scotland for the treatment of adults with chronic and episodic migraine.

Ajovy, which is manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals, is one of a new generation of migraine treatments, the first preventive medication that is dedicated to treating the condition. This new class of drugs works by inhibiting a small protein found in nerve cells called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which is believed to be involved in causing the pain in migraine attacks.

Expanded availability increases national divide

Another medication in this group, Erenumab (Aimovig) which is produced by Novartis, was accepted by the SMC for use in NHS Scotland to treat chronic migraine last year. However, this is the first dedicated migraine preventive medication that will be available to treat both chronic and episodic migraine, thereby expanding its availability to many more people living with migraine.

Scotland is the only nation in the United Kingdom where CGRP inhibitors have been approved to treat migraine on the NHS. Erenumab was rejected last year by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to treat migraine within NHS England, and NICE is currently appraising Fremanezumab. This expanded availability further highlights the disparity in treatment options across the country. The Migraine Trust hopes that NICE will follow the SMC’s lead and approve Fremanezumab for use in the treatment of migraine.

Life-changing impact of treatment

We submitted new evidence about the effectiveness and impact of CGRP inhibitors during the SMC appraisal process for Fremanezumab. This new evidence included the findings from our recent survey of over 200 chronic migraine patients who have recently been treated with a CGRP drug. The survey found that using a CGRP drug improved the lives of 80% of respondents, with many saying that it was ‘life changing’ for them.

“This is wonderful news for the many people in Scotland living with migraine. Not only is it an extremely painful and debilitating brain disease, but it also significantly impacts many aspects of the lives of those who get migraine. Our research has found that this easy to use treatment prevents migraine attacks for many and significantly improves their quality of life. This does mean that the national disparity in migraine treatment options increases though. It doesn’t seem fair that access to life-changing migraine medication within the UK depends on your postcode, and I hope that this situation is rectified in the near future.” Gus Baldwin, Chief Executive of The Migraine Trust

Accessing Fremanezumab (Ajovy)

Fremanezumab’s use will be restricted to patients with chronic and episodic migraine who have had prior failure on three or more preventive treatments for migraine. People with migraine who qualify under these criteria should speak to their healthcare professional. If their healthcare professional thinks that Fremanezumab is the right medication for them, they can now be given the treatment by prescription on the NHS in Scotland.