A new migraine drug developed by Eli Lilly & Co. (NYSE: LLY) has been approved by regulators in the United States. Galcanezumab, which will be marketed under the name Emgality, was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of the recurrent, painful headaches. The company said in a statement that the injectable drug would be made available to patients soon after it gained approval. Emgality is also on track for final approval in the European Union.
Galcanezumab is part of a new class of therapies for patients who suffer from migraines. These therapies inhibit calcitonin gene-related peptide, a molecule produced in nerve cells of the brain and spinal cord. This class of drugs are the first specifically approved for prevention of migraines.
Migraines are very common, with about 39 million people in the US suffering from them. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 4 million Americans suffer daily symptoms. Most people who suffer migraines are between the ages of 35 and 45 and most of them are women. It is estimated that 15 million Americans might benefit from this new class of migraine drugs.
Eli Lilly said that Emgality will be priced at $6,900 a year, or $575 a month. The company said it will offer the drug at no cost for a year to millions of patients with commercial insurance. The company will be absorbing the cost of the doses until insurance contracts are finalized. Wei-Li Shao, vice president of Lilly’s neuroscience business, said, “We’re providing this to make sure there’s no gap in the ability for patients to start should they need it.”
Emgality is being sold at roughly the same price point as similar drugs recently launched by Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN) and Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA). Teva’s Avovy is available for patients with commercial insurance for no copay through the end of 2019. Amgen charges commercial insurance patients a $5 monthly copayment for its drug Aimovig, capped at a benefit of $2,700 a year.