Finland’s Hila Decides to Heavily Subsidize the Novartis’ Expensive Migraine Drug Aimovig after Desperate Calls from Patients

Finland’s Pharmaceutical Pricing Board (Hila) has announced a decision to heavily subsidize the newly approved preventative migraine drug Aimovig. Aimovig, produced by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, is the brand name of erenumab drug.

The drug has gained approval from the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency. The wholesale price of the drug is 1,160 euros/month. Hila announced that from April 2019 onwards the 70mg Aimovig dose will be available for 425 euros, excluding pharmacy retailer margins and VAT.

The social services agency Kela will bear the burden of most of medicine cost and the taxpayer will have to pay at the most 592 euros/year out of their pocket. Once the cap is reached at the second monthly dose, patients will be able to get Aimovig drug at 5 euros/month. The board, however, has set some eligibility criteria for the drug, only patients suffering from migraines for 8 days/month and who have tried at least two alternative preventative treatments will be eligible for the subsidized pricing.

Pharmaceutical Pricing Board chair Lauri Pelkonen said that after the Aimovig’s approval from the European Medicines Agency the board has received huge number of calls and enquiries from physicians and public alike who were curious about the drug’s price. She added that despite the ‘noise’, the decision to subsidize the drug was reached normally and all criteria and procedures were duly followed.

The drug has received worldwide attention of being ‘revolutionary’ in reducing the number of migraine episodes owing to the outstanding clinical and later trial results shown by the drug. The patients suffering from migraines were disappointed when UK’s drug authority National Institute Health and Care Excellence (NICE) rejected the NHS coverage of the drug stating that it is not cost effective.

According to European Medicines Agency, Chronic sufferers’ number of days experiencing migraines were significantly reduced after being treated with Aimovig. When 667 patients suffering from migraines for average 18 days per month were treated with Aimovig, the study found that the number of migraine days were reduced by 7 days fewer days. The patients who were given the placebo reported only four fewer days of migraines.

About half million people in Finland suffer from migraine headaches which is 10% of the total population of Finland. The chronic sufferers constitute one fourth of that number.

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