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Barbanti (S. Raffaele): ‘New drugs reduce the frequency of migraine attacks’


In Italy about 15 million people suffer from migraines and it is estimated that one in three has at least one episode a week. Precisely this group of people could benefit from a new treatment approach based on preventive therapies. Piero Barbanti, head of the Headache and Pain Diagnosis and Therapy Center of the Irccs San Raffaele Pisana in Rome at ‘Aleati per la Salute’ (, the new portal dedicated to medical-scientific information created by Novartis , takes stock of the disease and the new therapeutic strategies. “Migraine – states Barbanti – is an extremely severe but not dangerous brain disease: the first cause of disability in women under 50 and the second most disabling disease of all mankind. We can say that it is the perfect storm of a brain which, by a tragic mistake, transforms any climatic, hormonal or emotional variation into pain ”. However, there is no shortage of therapeutic innovations against migraine attacks. “The advent of monoclonal antibodies, that is a selective and specific treatment for migraines – observes Barbanti – has completely changed the mindset, that is the mentality and the quality of the doctor’s work. On the one hand, the world of headaches and migraines emerges as one of the most developed branches in the neurological field and, on the other hand, it alleviates psychological suffering that is not only for the patient, but also for the doctor, who has an alternative to therapies traditional not always so effective. The new biological drugs (anti Cgrp) – he explains – are able to block the action of the Cgrp protein which increases in the blood when a migraine crisis is triggered and which is largely responsible for the painful phase “. Monoclonal antibodies are not taken when an acute headache attack occurs because they are a prophylactic therapy, that is, aimed at reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of migraine attacks over time. “These new therapies have revolutionized the patient’s life for a variety of reasons”, recalls the neurologist who observes how adherence to treatment has improved because the administration is “simple, monthly subcutaneous and well tolerated”. In terms of efficacy, it is sufficient to consider that 60% of patients have an average reduction of 50% in monthly migraine days starting from the month following the first administration and no serious adverse events have been reported to date. “In addition to the net reduction in the number of migraine days without occurring – underlines Barbanti – the patient, which we would not have expected, not only gains days without pain, but also in terms of happiness and the ability to be the protagonist of his own life. The disability we define as intercritical is dramatically reduced by this treatment which seems to bring back the joy of life in patients ”. The new specific, effective and well tolerated therapies have increased the degree of doctor-patient communication. As Barbanti observes: “The patient knows that migraine is a disease of the neuron, the nerve cell, and that it can be treated. This takes the interaction with the doctor to a more scientific level, more motivating for the patient and fulfilling for the doctor. Moreover – concludes the specialist – thanks to the sad period of the pandemic, the doctor and patient have discovered telemedicine which helps and is favored by both for the follow-up of these treatments ”. The expert’s intervention is available on: life-of-the-patient



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