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Expert Opin Emerg Drugs. 2012 Sep;17(3):393-406. doi: 10.1517/14728214.2012.709846. Epub 2012 Aug 3.

Emerging treatment for chronic migraine and refractory chronic migraine.

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  • 1Sapienza University and Advanced Molecular Diagnostic Unit, Sant'Andrea Hospital, NESMOS Department, Rome, Italy.



Chronic migraine (CM), the suffering of 15 or more headache days with at least 8 of these migraine days, afflicts 1.3% - 5.1% of the global population. CM is the most common disorder faced by experts in tertiary headache centers. When resistant to conventional medical treatment and prophylactic medication this condition is known as refractory chronic migraine (RCM). RCM is one of the greatest challenges in headache medicine.


State-of-the-art and future medical treatments of chronic migraine include: OnabotulinumtoxinA, antiepileptic drugs (Levetiracetam, Magnesium valproate hydrate, Lacosamide, BGG-492), 5-HT agonists (Lasmiditan, NXN-188, novel delivery systems of Sumatriptan, a well-established drug treatment for acute migraine), CGRP receptor antagonists (BMS-927711), ML-1 agonists (Ramelteon), orexin receptor antagonist (MK-6096), plant-derived compound (LLL-2011) and other multitarget drugs such as Tezampanel, Tonabersat, intranasal carbon dioxide and BOL-148. The role for neuromodulation, the application of targeted electrical stimulation, will be examined.


Medication overuse headache (MOH) is now recognized to be a major factor in many cases of both chronic and refractory chronic migraine. MOH must be addressed prior to evaluating the effectiveness of new preventative and prophylactic treatment approaches. Innovative new drugs and electrical neuromodulation are promising CM treatments. Future studies must carefully screen patients and acquire data that can lead to personalized, tailored treatment strategies.

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