Israel's Teva Halts Testing Alternative Use for Migraine Drug

The world’s largest generic drug company was counting on the drug Ajovy to help revive it after 2018 debt crisis

File photo: A Teva Pharmaceutical Industries building in Jerusalem, December 14, 2017.
Ammar Awad/Reuters

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries said Tuesday it would stop developing its migraine drug Ajovy for treating cluster headaches after the company found the treatment was unlikely to meet the main goal of a late-stage trial.

The drug, known generically as fremanezumab, competes with rival treatments from Eli Lilly and Amgen.

In November, Lilly received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “breakthrough” status for its migraine drug Emgality in treating episodic cluster headaches.

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In a late-stage trial, three out of four patients treated with Lilly’s drug saw at least a 50% reduction in weekly cluster headaches – rare and painful headaches occurring in clusters or cyclical patterns that are often confused with migraines.

Teva’s decision could be positive for Lilly’s drug in differentiating it from its rivals, BMO Capital Markets analyst Alex Arfaei said.

“Although the cluster headache market is much smaller than the migraine market, it is a high unmet need,” Arfaei said.

Teva, the world’s largest generic drugmaker, is counting on Ajovy and another drug, Austedo for Huntington’s, to help revive its fortunes after it was forced to restructure to tackle a debt crisis.

The drug was approved as a prevention for migraines in September.

The same drug is being tested in mid-stage trial as a treatment for post-traumatic headache as well.