Rimegepant has been rejected by the UK’s NICE for the acute treatment of migraine either with or without aura as well as for episodic attacks
In an appraisal consultation document from NICE, rimegepant is not being recommended within its marketing authorisation, for the acute treatment of migraine with or without aura in adults, or for the prevention of episodic migraine in adults, who experience at least 4 attacks per month.
Rimegepant belongs to a class of drugs referred to as ‘gepants’ which are calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonists. Calcitonin gene-related peptide has been associated with sensitisation and pain generation but also plays a role in vasodilatation. In a recent phase 2/3 trial, oral rimegepant, when taken every other day, was found to be effective as a preventive treatment of migraine, with its tolerability similar to placebo.
It is proposed by the manufacturer that rimegepant is used for acute migraine treatment in patients who have failed to respond to two or more triptans. However, in its consultation document, while accepting that the drug is likely to reduce pain at 2 hours post-dose more than placebo, NICE added that the evidence submitted by the manufacturer, for patients who have not responded to two triptans, is uncertain and hence requires more evidence. Moreover, while it also reduces monthly migraine days, NICE argued that there is an absence of comparative long-term evidence to support this view. As a result, the organisation believes that this clinical uncertainty affects the certainty of the cost-effectiveness estimate and which is likely to be above what NICE considers to be an acceptable use of NHS resources.
In response to the consultation, the Migraine trust has expressed concern, stating that ‘a significant proportion of those seeking help from The Migraine Trust have an inadequate response, or contraindication to the best current acute treatment triptans, or have medication overuse headache as a result of inadequate care and treatment of their migraine.’ The statement added that ‘we believe that Rimegepant is an important opportunity to help those who have medication overuse headache and prevent others from developing it.’ These concern arose following a 2019 survey of 1,800 migraine sufferers undertaken by the trust, which found that migraine treatments caused medication overuse headache in a third of respondents.
Chief executive of the migraine trust, Rob Music said that ‘we are very disappointed by this decision and urge those affected by migraine, and particularly those without an effective treatment for migraine and who have experienced medication overuse headache, to respond to NICE’s consultation and let it know how much this new treatment option [rimegepant] is needed.’