YOUR HEALTH: A once a month shot for migraines

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – 71-year old Karen Muzzy has suffered severe migraines for 50 years.

She takes a wide assortment of daily and rescue medications to deal with them.

"Okay, I take a beta-blocker, I take two seizure drugs, and I take an anti-depressant."

When migraines are especially bad, she can inject herself with a muscle relaxer, some Benadryl, or take a steroid plus nausea medicine.

The medications make her feel drowsy.

She hopes to replace most of these drugs with just one, administered once a month in a pen-like device.

"Someday this will be my single medication as opposed to having all these on hand."

One drug, Aimovig, and two others recently approved by the FDA are called CGRP monoclonal antibodies.  They block the pathology that causes migraines.

It is helping to reduce Karen's severe migraines from 16 to four per month.

"We have not had a migraines specific drug in several years, so definitely this is like the most exciting phase in the headache world right now," explained Dr. Priyanka Chaudhry of Texas A&M Health Services.

More than 36 million Americans suffer from migraines, while more than 11 million blame migraines for causing moderate to severe disability. 

For Karen and her husband, life has changed dramatically for the better.    She doesn't feel the side effects of so many drugs.

"I think she's enjoying life a lot more," said her husband Mike.

The biggest challenge for patients may be the cost.

One monthly dose costs $575.

An appeal to Medicare cut the price in half for Karen.

She and her husband say the relief is worth the high price.

DEALING WITH A MIGRAINE AT WORK:  A typical work environment has many triggers for migraines such as bright lights, loud noises, stress, and long hours, but there are ways to manage the symptoms.  If you suspect a migraine is coming, you should:

  • Immediately take any relevant medications
  • Try to cut out any sources of blue light such as computer screens, phone screens, and fluorescent lighting
  • Avoid pungent odors and loud or harsh sounds
  • Dehydration can trigger the pain or make it worse, so make sure you're drinking enough water
  • Then take some deeps breaths and draw out the exhales to help your body relax

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.