Literature Review

Fremanezumab May Improve Migraineurs’ Function on Headache-Free Days

The mechanism underlying the benefit observed in the post hoc analyses is unclear.


Fremanezumab increases the number of headache-free days with normal function for patients with episodic or chronic migraine, according to post hoc analyses published online ahead of print August 17 in Neurology. Fremanezumab appears to improve all measures of function in patients with episodic migraine, and some measures in patients with chronic migraine.

“The results should be considered exploratory,” said Juliana VanderPluym, MD, a neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, and colleagues. “Further research is needed to confirm these preliminary findings and to understand the factors contributing to perceived functional status on headache-free days.”

Juliana VanderPluym, MD

Examining Two Phase II Trials

Fremanezumab is a fully humanized monoclonal antibody that binds to calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). Dr. VanderPluym and colleagues analyzed data from randomized, double-blind phase II trials of the therapy for prevention of high-frequency episodic migraine (ie, eight to 14 headache days per month) and chronic migraine. Patients with high-frequency episodic migraine received placebo or monthly subcutaneous fremanezumab injections of 225 mg or 675 mg. Patients with chronic migraine received placebo or an initial 675-mg fremanezumab dose followed by monthly subcutaneous injections of 225 mg or 900 mg. The treatment period was three months.

Participants entered information into an electronic diary daily. Questions about functional performance elicited information about “work/school/household chore performance” and “concentration/mental fatigue.” For the former category, patients recorded their performance as normal, less than 50% impaired, or at least 50% impaired. For the latter category, patients recorded how much time they had spent working more slowly, finding it difficult to concentrate, and feeling tired or drained.

Fremanezumab Improved Concentration

In the high-frequency episodic migraine study, patients who received fremanezumab had a greater increase in headache-free days with normal concentration and normal performance at work, school, and home, compared with controls.

In the study of chronic migraine, the 900-mg dose was associated with consistent improvements in function on headache-free days. Patients with chronic migraine in the 225-mg dose group had increases compared with controls in the number of headache-free days in which they performed household chores normally and had no time with difficulty concentrating. The 225-mg group had minimal changes in the number of headache-free days in which work/study and household chore performance was impaired by 50% or more, as well as in in time with difficulty concentrating, but its results were better than those of controls.

“One could postulate that patients had more headache-free days with normal functional performance simply because they had more headache-free days on fremanezumab,” said Dr. VanderPluym. “With increased headache-free days, patients may have had reduced interictal anxiety and thus reduced avoidance behavior and lifestyle compromise, allowing them to function normally.”

Patients receiving fremanezumab significantly reduced their intake of acute medications, compared with controls. This reduction likely decreased the number of side effects associated with acute medications and could have contributed to better functional performance, said the authors.

A limitation of the analysis is that the assessment of function was not based on standardized questionnaires such as the Headache Impact Test-6 or the Migraine-Specific Quality of Life Questionnaire.

—Erik Greb

Suggested Reading

VanderPluym J, Dodick DW, Lipton RB, et al. Fremanezumab for preventive treatment of migraine: functional status on headache-free days. Neurology. 2018 Aug 17 [Epub ahead of print].

Next Article:

Mast Cells Release Migraine-Inducing PACAP

Related Articles