Merck is discontinuing the clinical development program for telcagepant, the company’s investigational calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonist for the treatment of acute migraine. The decision is based on an assessment of data across the clinical program, including findings from a recently completed six-month Phase III study.
The drug (formerly known as MK-0974) was once a much talked-about drug with a promising future, as the leader of a new kind of migraine drug. Then researchers became concerned when some patients developed high levels of liver enzymes (transaminases).
The trials forged ahead in hopes that telcagepant would work better as an abortive. But Merck finally gave up trials. It had already shelved MK-3207, its other (CGRP) receptor antagonist for migraine.
This may be the end of telcagepant – but it’s by no means the end of this class of migraine medications. Researchers are pushing ahead with this and other types of medication that may fight migraine in the future.
But this is another reminder about the time and expense that’s put into developing new drugs. Though we have almost endless options today, we do pay for those options, and there’s a reason why.