Aimovig (Erenumab) for Migraine Prevention

This injection is FDA-approved to thwart chronic and episodic attacks

Aimovig (erenumab) is a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the specific purpose of preventing chronic and episodic migraine headaches with and without aura. It has a number of distinct advantages over other medications that often are prescribed to head off migraines—so-called oral migraine prevention medications (OMPMs), which often have daunting side effects.

Aimovig isn't totally free of side effects, but research shows that compared to OMPMs, those that do occur for some people are milder (and there are fewer of them). Aimovig also has been found in clinical trials to be highly effective for a significant number of people.

If you have chronic migraines, you may want to discuss trying Aimovig with your doctor, especially if you've found that OMPMs aren't right for you.

How Aimovig Works

Aimovig is a biologic medication. This means that it is produced by altering the DNA inside a living cell rather than being chemically synthesized. There are many types of biologics; Aimovig is a monoclonal antibody that targets a protein in the brain and nervous system called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

During a migraine attack, it's believed that CGRP is released from trigeminal nerve fibers. (The trigeminal nerve is a cranial nerve that supplies sensation, including pain, to areas of the face.) Once that happens, the protein causes inflammation and plays a key role in the transmission of pain signals to the brain. It also dilates the blood vessels outside and inside the skull, which is believed to be a trigger for migraine pain.

Aimovig works by blocking the docking site of the CGRP receptor.

Using Aimovig

Aimovig is an injectable drug. It comes in two forms: as a prefilled syringe or as an easy-to-use prefilled autoinjector (a spring-loaded syringe) called the Aimovig SureClick.

Both the syringe and the autoinjector deliver the medication subcutaneously (just under the skin). If you give yourself the injection, your doctor will have you target your thigh or your abdomen. If the idea of giving yourself a shot is daunting, however, you can have someone inject Aimovig in your upper arm.

Dosage

Each syringe contains 70 milligrams (mg) of medication. Depending on your migraine headache history, your doctor will prescribe either one 70-milligram dose of Aimovig or two—one shot right after the other—once a month.

Safety Tip

If you're taking a double dose of Aimovig and use the same part of your body for both shots, avoid using the exact same injection site.

Aimovig should be stored in the refrigerator—an important thing to know if your monthly dose will be due while you're traveling.

Side Effects

Aimovig has proven to be safe for adults 18 and over, but it hasn't been tested in children. It also isn't known how the drug might affect a developing baby or a child who's breastfeeding, so if you're pregnant, trying to conceive, or nursing, be sure to tell your doctor if he or she is considering prescribing Aimovig for you.

If you happen to be allergic to latex or rubber, it's important to know that the syringe and the autoinjector may contain both.

In studies, the most common side effects were associated with the shot itself: pain, itching, and redness at the injection site. Beyond that, the only potential problems are constipation, cramps, and muscle spasms.

A Word From Verywell

Aimovig and medications like it that are in the works are likely to be a welcome addition to the arsenal of drugs that typically are relied on to prevent migraine headaches, such as Topamax (topiramate), Inderal (propranolol), and Elavil (amitriptyline). These OMPMs often aren't as effective as would be ideal. What's more, most have side effects that lead people to stop taking them. If this has been your experience, trying Aimovig could be worth it.

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