Story by: Joe Hall on February 6, 2020
Production of two of the most frequently used over-the-counter migraine medications has been temporarily stopped.
Manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline PLC temporarily has halted production of Excedrin Migraine and Excedrin Extra Strength. It’s unclear how long production will be delayed.
Though it may raise concerns for consumers who use the products, migraine specialists say the potential shortage might have a positive effect on some migraine patients.
“Using a particular medication too often can lead to an increase in headaches and migraines,” said Brian M. Plato, D.O., neurologist and headache specialist with Norton Neuroscience Institute Headache Program. “This may be an opportunity for migraine patients to explore other forms of treatment.”
In addition to other over-the-counter migraine medications, the Food and Drug Administration recently approved two new drugs aimed at stopping migraines as they happen. The medicines — Ubrelvy and Reyvow — are entirely new classes of medications aimed at acutely treating migraine. Ubrelvy is now available for prescription and Reyvow should be in the upcoming weeks.
Headache is the most prevalent neurological disorder worldwide, and is the No. 2 cause of years lived with disability. The team at Norton Neuroscience Institute treats more patients experiencing headache and migraine than any other in the area.
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There also are new preventive options for those who experience migraines. Erenumab, fremanezumab and galcanezumab are medications given as monthly injections. Dr. Plato and Norton Neuroscience Institute were involved in the clinical trials of some of these new therapies prior to FDA approval.
“For so long the treatment options have been to use medications approved for other medical uses — antidepressants, antiseizure medications and blood pressure medications,” Dr. Plato said. “These are the first medications developed to specifically prevent migraine.”
For those who rely on Excedrin products for migraine relief, the American Migraine Foundation (AMF) recommends talking with a headache specialist about other available treatments.
“For people using Excedrin to relieve recurring migraine attacks, this news may be concerning. But what sounds scary, could actually be the ticket to reducing the frequency of your migraine attacks,” AMF wrote in a statement.
Dr. Plato encouraged patients to explore with their healthcare provider whether migraine preventive medications may be a good option for them and if there are better options to stop migraine once it begins.
“Norton Neuroscience Institute headache specialists are familiar with these drugs and can prescribe them for appropriate patients,” he said.
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