Migraine patient or doctor? Demand more, Biohaven advises in new awareness push

An image from Biohaven's migraine awareness campaign website spells out patients' issues with the acute migraine treatment market. (Biohaven)

Biohaven is urging patients and physicians to “Demand More” from acute migraine treatments. That’s the tagline of its just-launched effort to draw attention to the lack of satisfactory options.

Biohaven debuted the work at the recent American Headache Society annual meeting. At the center of the campaign and website are patients holding signs that spell out their frustrations with current acute migraine treatments. Those include, “I need an acute treatment that can work the first time” and, “Migraine treatments should impact my symptoms. Not my life.”

RELATED: How can Teva's migraine drug face off Amgen and Lilly? Put neurologists first, DTC last, executive says

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Migraine patients often treat headaches with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), triptans, or even more powerful narcotics, but Biohaven’s research found that many people are not satisfied with those drugs' side effects and with having to take multiple medicines or dose frequently, Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric said.

The campaign is intentionally bold, and in fact, Biohaven rejected the first round of ad submissions. Coric said they were “dangerously close” to going with a standard pharma-type campaign, but the internal team said no. So they went back to the drawing board with their ideas and ad agency Katalyst to come up with the “Demand More” treatise.

“We wanted it to stand out for both doctors and patients,” he said. “I hope it empowers patients to say they deserve better treatment for their migraines so they can get back to their lives. And I hope it highlights for physicians not to be complacent with the current stuff. Be focused on what’s coming because these patients deserve better treatment.”

RELATED: Biohaven, sporting new data, moves closer to CGRP finish line—and maybe M&A

Biohaven candidate rimegepant, awaiting FDA approval after the company used a priority review voucher, is an oral CGRP inhibitor meant to treat acute migraines. Allergan’s ubrogepant is also awaiting approval for an acute indication. Other CGRP injectables—Amgen and Novartis’ Aimovig, Teva’s Ajovy and Eli Lilly’s Emgality—are already on the market, but those are migraine prevention drugs rather than acute migraine treatments. 

Coric said that’s an important distinction.

“All patients need acute treatment—not everyone qualifies for prevention—but everybody, whether you’re on a preventative agent or whether you’re on [the] current standard of care, there’s a huge unmet need of having an acute treatment to get back to your life quickly,” he said.

The disease awareness campaign will expand over time, Coric said, but he declined to disclose details for competitive reasons. While Biohaven filed its NDA for rimegepant for the acute treatment indication, the company is also currently investigating the agent for preventative use.

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