NICE approves eptinezumab (Vyepti) to treat episodic and chronic migraine
Eligible patients must have access
We welcome today’s announcement by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) that eptinezumab (Vyepti) has been approved for use within the NHS in England for the treatment of episodic and chronic migraine.
Eptinezumab is given by infusion (drip) into a vein once every 12 weeks. It is one of a number of new generation of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antibody drugs, which are the first medication specifically designed to prevent migraine. This approval improves treatment options for people affected by migraine.
NICE has said that the drug should be available for patients who experience migraine on four or more days a month and who have already failed to respond to at least three other migraine preventive drugs. Migraine preventives are medicines usually taken daily to prevent or reduce the number and severity of migraine attacks.
Importance of access to this medication
Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in England now have three months to comply with this recommendation. However, our report published in 2021 highlighted how many migraine patients that were eligible for these CGRP antibody medication were struggling to access them. Dismissed for too long revealed that only 15 Trusts in England (out of 128 contacted) replied to our Freedom of Information requests and stated that eligible patients could access CGRP treatment.
“While it is great news that there is another treatment option for people living with this painful, debilitating and exhausting brain disease, it’s crucial that those who are eligible can actually access it. This new class of drugs has been life-changing to many people with migraine in the UK. It has allowed many to do things that migraine had prevented them from doing, from being able to work full-time to being able to enjoy travelling. Unfortunately, too many people whose lives are currently being severely impacted by migraine, and who are eligible for these treatments, are unable to access them. This is not only at a huge person cost for those who have to live with migraine but the lack of equitable access to migraine treatments is bad for the NHS too. Migraine causes 16,500 emergency admissions every year, at a cost of £11.5m. As we start 2023, we hope that Integrated Care Systems will do more to ensure that there is greater access to this potentially life changing treatment.”