CGRP migraine treatment is a new type of treatment used to prevent and treat migraine pain.
The medication blocks a protein called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). CGRP may cause inflammation and pain in the nervous system of people who have migraine attacks.
CGRP migraine medications are also called anti-CGRP, CGRP inhibitor and CGRP antagonist treatment.
If you have chronic migraine, you might have intense headache pain and other symptoms for 15 days or more every month. CGRP migraine treatment may help prevent migraine attacks and make them less severe.
Research published in the journal Neurology found that women with chronic migraine had higher levels of CGRP than women who only had migraine pain sometimes. The women with chronic migraine had more CGRP in their blood even when they were not having a migraine attack.
CGRP may help cause migraines. It also worsens headache pain and makes it last longer. CGRP migraine treatments work in one of two ways to stop or treat migraine pain:
- They block the sites in and around the brain where CRGP must attach to work.
- They bind to CGRP and prevent it from working.
There is more than one type of CGRP migraine treatment available.
Migraine drugs that target CGRP
Most CGRP migraine treatments are taken by an injection with a needle or automatic pen. This is similar to how some people with diabetes take insulin.
A CGRP drug that can be taken by mouth (like a pill) may be available soon.
The dosage depends on the treatment and how often you get migraines. You may need a CGRP migraine treatment injection once or twice a month.
Other CGRP migraine drugs are only needed once every three months. You can give yourself the injections at home or have your doctor inject them.
The cost for one kind of CGRP migraine treatment is about $6,900 per year or $575 per month. Other types may have slightly different costs. CGRP drugs are new and may cost more than other kinds of migraine treatment.
The American Migraine Foundation advises that some health insurance companies may pay for CGRP migraine treatment if other treatments have not worked for you.
Document your migraine treatment, and ask your doctor for a letter. They can also call your insurance provider.
All the effects of CGRP migraine treatments are not yet known. There may be some long-term risks that can happen in some people. More medical research is needed on these drugs.
Most CGRP migraine treatments currently have to be injected. This can cause pain. Additionally, an injection site on the skin can get infected. Washing your hands, cleaning the site, and using new needles each time is important.
CGRP also plays a key role in dilating or widening your blood vessels. This helps to balance blood pressure. Migraine medications that lower CGRP levels may cause side effects that affect your blood pressure and heart.
risks of CGRP migraine treatment
- constricting or making some blood vessels narrower
- hypertension or high blood pressure
- working against the body’s ability to dilate blood vessels
- working against medications that help lower your blood pressure
CGRP is also involved in other body mechanisms. For example, it helps with wound healing and plays a role in some of the digestive organs. It’s not yet known if blocking this chemical protein could affect wound healing or trigger digestive disorders.
CGRP migraine treatments may work for people who do not get relief from other migraine treatments.
A 2018 study found that almost a third of people tested had 50 percent fewer migraines. Their migraine symptoms also lasted fewer days. In other research, a third of the people with migraines had up to 75 percent improvement.
Some migraine medications stop working as well if they’re used for some time. So far, CGRP has not been shown to lose its effect on helping to treat migraines.
CGRP migraine treatments are only needed once or twice a month at most. This makes it easier for people with migraines to not miss a medication dose. Additionally, people do not have to wait to have a migraine attack to have the treatment.
CGRP migraine treatment is a new type of treatment. It may work better for some people with migraine than other kinds of medications.
Like other types of treatment, CGRP migraine drugs may not be right for everyone. If you have another chronic illness like heart disease, diabetes, or digestive problems, your doctor may not recommend CGRP treatment.
CGRP migraine treatments give people with migraines relief in three ways:
- they help prevent migraines from happening
- they shorten how long a migraine lasts
- they reduce pain and other migraine symptoms
Talk to your doctor to find out if CGRP migraine treatment may be right for you. Your doctor may recommend trying it for a few months.
Keep a daily symptom journal before taking CGRP medication and while you’re taking it. Let your doctor know of all changes in symptoms and any side effects you may have.