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Migraine Prophylaxis Using Novel Monoclonal Antibody Injections in a Commercial Pilot

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BACKGROUND: Frequent migraine headaches are disabling and aeromedically disqualifying. Four new monoclonal antibody medications, targeting calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2018, with more expected in the coming years. These medications present new alternatives for the treatment of migraine unresponsive to other therapeutic and prophylactic agents.

CASE REPORT: We present a case of a 45-yr-old commercial pilot who presented with migraine headaches increasing in frequency to 1315 per month in spite of the use of propranolol for prophylaxis and sumatriptan for abortive treatment of the headaches. Upon presentation, he was not flying due to his frequent headaches and he was started on monthly subcutaneous injections of fremanezumab. Following his second injection, his headaches stopped entirely, and he has continued on the medication and not experienced another migraine headache. He underwent an aeromedical neurology evaluation and consideration for Authorization of Special Issuance of Medical Certificate, which was granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

DISCUSSION: This is the first case to our knowledge of the successful use of an anti-CGRP monoclonal antibody medication in an active pilot. The pilot appears to be a super responder to the medication, having achieved complete remission of a nearly life-long condition. Though only a small portion of treated individuals will see this sort of response, these medications represent an effective additional option for migraine prophylaxis in the pilot population.

Garber MA, Sirven JI, Roth RS, Hemphill JM. Migraine prophylaxis using novel monoclonal antibody injections in a commercial pilot. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020; 91(10):824825.
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Keywords: calcitonin gene-related peptide; fremanezumab; migraine headache; pilots

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2020

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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