New Treatments Update

Last updated on May 13, 2020. 

In this article:

  • Introduction
  • New Treatments Update
  • Aimovig (erenumab)
  • Emgality (galcanezumab)
  • Ajovy (fremanezumab)
  • Timing Expectations
  • Our Response to COVID-19

A new category of treatments has recently been developed to prevent migraine attacks from occurring. These are the Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptides (CGRP) monoclonal antibodies. We have spoken to our community about these treatments in the past. View this article for more information about the anti-CGRPs.

In Australia, three different manufacturers have applied for Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coverage within the past 2 years. The process can be complicated and time consuming. Understandably there is some confusion over the availability of these treatments. Below is an update of the current status of each of them:

  • Aimovig (erenumab)
  • Emgality (galcanezumab)
  • Ajovy (fremanezumab)

 

Aimovig

After several failed attempts Aimovig withdrew their application for coverage on the PBS. Aimovig has been available without PBS support for between $750-$850 depending on pharmacy markups. As of the 20th of April 2020, a new process has been made available to order Aimovig. This will occur directly via the website migrainedirect.com.au which has information directing you to a third party (Pharmacy Phusion) related to ordering Aimovig online via private prescription and delivered to a pharmacy of your choice. There are no shipping charges. The cost for one month treatment and the full dosage of 140ml is $695. While the cost is still significant this is a reduction from the current price for a private prescription. Novartis has also said that they will provide an extra dose free with the first order.

Emgality

In July 2019, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) recommended the inclusion of Emgality (galcanezumab) on the PBS for people with chronic migraine who have unsatisfactorily tried at least three prevention therapies. Emgality was the first medicine of its class to have received a positive recommendation from the PBAC.

To date, a PBS listing has not been possible because the PBAC recommendation would require Emgality to be funded from within a risk-share arrangement which includes a strict financial cap that applies to Botox (botulinum toxin). Securing a PBS subsidy for chronic migraine patients is the manufacturer’s priority and they remain in active discussion with the Department of Health, however without an increase in PBS funding for migraine prevention therapy, Emgality is likely to remain out of reach for thousands of Australians living with chronic migraine. Lilly is hopeful that a solution can be reached in the best interests of migraine patients.

Since December last year, Emgality has been made available on private prescription from a physician involved in the treatment and management of migraine.

Ajovy

On Friday April 24th 2020 the PBAC delivered a positive recommendation for Ajovy (fremanezumab) to be listed on the PBS for the prevention of chronic migraine.

Benet Irish, General Manager at Teva Pharma Australia who manufacture Ajovy said:

“The positive recommendation marks an important milestone to realise our ambition of enabling migraine patients in Australia to have access to this next generation of innovative medicines. In these challenging times, it is important more than ever that we support people with chronic conditions to manage their condition. We therefore want to reassure the migraine community that we are working closely with the government to enable PBS reimbursement as soon as possible.”

Following this positive recommendation, Teva said that they will continue to work closely with the government to enable eligible patients to have access to Ajovy via the PBS in the near future. No dates can be confirmed at this stage.

Timing Expectations

Two anti-CGRPs treatments have now received positive recommendations for PBS listing. The next step is for negotiations between these manufacturers and the Department of Health. These negotiations can take months at the best of times. Unfortunately, due to the global pandemic, further delays in this process may occur. Migraine & Headache Australia does not have guidance on when these negotiations are expected to conclude but we will keep the community informed with any new developments.

In the meantime we hope this information provides some reassurance that things are moving in the right direction and we will continue to represent the patient voice in the need for fair access to proven and safe treatments for migraine.

During these uncertain times, our thoughts go out to you and your families. Stay safe, and as well as you can. We will be in touch with any new updates as they are received.

Our Response to COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the world, Migraine & Headache Australia, like all organisations in Australia, is greatly concerned with the impact on all Australians. Our thoughts are with you all and your families during this difficult time.

There is a great sense of unease everywhere and we are all facing new challenges.  As we adapt to these unprecedented circumstances, please be assured that we are following the health advice being given by authorities and working from home where possible.

We are continuing to rely on your donations and are very grateful for your support especially in these circumstances.  Research must continue as without it, there will be no cure.

Please feel free to email us if you have any queries or concerns that we can assist you with at info@brainfoundation.org.au

Stay safe and do look after yourselves and others. It is during times like these that we can see the best in people, please look out for your loved ones and we can all get through this together.

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