Evaluation of outcomes of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)-targeting therapies for acute and preventive migraine treatment based on patient sex

Frank Porreca, Edita Navratilova, Joe Hirman, Antoinette Maassen van den Brink, Richard B. Lipton, David W. Dodick

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Women show increased prevalence and severity of migraine compared to men. Whether small molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor (CGRP-R) antagonists (i.e., gepants) and monoclonal antibodies targeting either the CGRP-R or the CGRP peptide might show sexually dimorphic outcomes for acute and preventive therapy has not been established. Methods: We conducted a subpopulation analysis of available published data from FDA reviews to evaluate potential sex differences in the response rates of ubrogepant, rimegepant and zavegepant for acute migraine therapy. Available data from FDA reviews of erenumab, fremanezumab, galcanezumab and eptinezumab, approved CGRP-R and CGRP monoclonal antibodies and of atogepant were examined for prevention outcomes based on patient sex. Preventive outcomes were analyzed separately for patients with episodic migraine and chronic migraine. Results: In women, the three approved gepants produced statistically significant drug effects regardless of dose tested on the FDA mandated co-primary endpoints, the proportion of patients achieving two-hour pain-freedom and the proportion of patients free of their most bothersome symptom at two hours post-dose. In women, the average placebo-subtracted two-hour pain-freedom proportion was 9.5% (CI: 7.4 to 11.6) and the average numbers needed to treat was 11. The free from most bothersome symptom at two hours outcomes were also significant in women. The gepant drugs did not reach statistically significant effects on the two-hour pain-freedom endpoint in the men, with an average drug effect of 2.8% (CI: −2.5 to 8.2) and an average number needed to treat of 36. For freedom from most bothersome symptom at two hours post-dose endpoint, differences were not significant in male patients. The treatment effect in each of the gepant studies was always numerically greater in women than in men. In evaluation of prevention outcomes with the antibodies or atogepant using the change from the specified primary endpoint (e.g., monthly migraine days), the observed treatment effect for episodic migraine patients almost always favored drug over placebo in both women and men. For chronic migraine patients the treatment effects of antibodies were similar in men and women and always favored the drug treated group. Conclusion/Interpretation: Small molecule CGRP-R antagonists are effective in acute migraine therapy in women but available data do not demonstrate effectiveness in men. CGRP-targeting therapies are effective for migraine prevention in both male and female episodic migraine patients but possible sex differences remain uncertain. In male and female chronic migraine patients, CGRP/CGRP-R antibodies were similarly effective. The data highlight possible differential effects of CGRP targeted therapies in different patient populations and the need for increased understanding of CGRP neurobiology in men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024


  • calcitonin gene-related peptide
  • chronic migraine
  • Episodic migraine
  • gepants
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • sexual dimorphism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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