Q. About a year ago, I learned about a new migraine medicine called Aimovig. I asked my neurologist if he could prescribe it, since I was averaging nine major headaches and 18 days off work each month.
At first, he was reluctant to prescribe Aimovig because it was so new. But all my other medications were barely working, so he finally agreed.
This drug changed my life. I inject it every 28 days and now average just one headache a month. That means a lot less missed work and a lot less suffering. I have experienced no side effects. I hope others can benefit as I have.
A. Other readers also have reported substantial improvement with erenumab (Aimovig). The Food and Drug Administration has also approved two other injectable drugs in this class: fremanezumab (Ajovy) and galcanezumab (Emgality). They are for migraine prevention rather than treatment.
The autoinjectors can cost over $500 unless insurance covers them, as it frequently does. Side effects of Aimovig can include constipation, nausea, hair loss, muscle aches and joint pain.
To learn more about this intriguing new migraine medicine and other headache treatments, you may wish to listen to the free podcast of our interview with Dr. Jennifer Kriegler, director of the Headache Medicine Fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic. It is Show 1133: How Can You Overcome Migraine Headaches? and is available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q. Drug ads on TV aimed at consumers are misleading. I was diagnosed with highly aggressive rheumatoid arthritis. My feet, ankles, knees and wrists are most affected.
The ads for meds to help RA sufferers show unhappy, miserable people unable to do “fun” things. Then after they take the advertised med, suddenly happy people are running around doing all kinds of things with their hands and feet.
Take my word for it: True RA victims could not engage in these activities with such energy. I consider this false advertising. For my RA, I take methotrexate and a powerful intravenous biologic.
A. We agree that most prescription-drug commercials emphasize the benefits and downplay the risks. The visual images of people having fun distract viewers from the list of often serious side effects, such as fatal infections, lymphoma and heart failure. We wish the FDA were stricter in its oversight of these ads.
Q. As a dentist, I see angular cheilitis very often. This is a common problem for elderly people with old, worn-out dentures. The denture teeth are so worn that the bite is “closed,” and this creates an excessive wrinkle in the corners of the mouth. Generally, there is also a chronic fungal infection under the dentures as well.
We dentists prescribe an ointment with a mixture of an antifungal and a steroid. You can get the same effect without a prescription by mixing Monistat with hydrocortisone. The ointment form works best.
Of course, you don’t have to be an old denture wearer to get angular cheilitis. I know a lot of your readers like to use home remedies for their problems, but in this case the “real” drugs work best.
A. Thank you for the advice on angular cheilitis, a condition in which one or both corners of the mouth become red, sore and even cracked. In many cases, this part of the mouth remains moist, making it hospitable for yeast overgrowth. That’s why an antifungal such as Monistat works so well. Topical hydrocortisone or a prescription steroid calms the inflammation and pain.
(In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, Fla. 32803, or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.)