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August 26, 2020

Elm City’s Biohaven lands a Kardashian as migraine drug pitchwoman

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Khloé Kardashian is the new celebrity spokeswoman for a local pharmaceutical company’s migraine drug.

Reality TV celebrity Khloé Kardashian has suffered from debilitating migraines since the sixth grade. Overcome by pain, nausea, dizziness and trouble with her vision, she could do little but retreat to a quiet, dark room when an attack hit.

Now, the entrepreneur and “Keeping up With the Kardashians” star is sharing her story as a spokeswoman for Biohaven Pharmaceuticals’ newly approved migraine drug, Nurtec ODT, which she started taking this spring.

Biohaven announced this summer that Kardashian will lead the company’s new “Take Back Today” marketing campaign for its first commercial drug, which arrived in pharmacies in March after winning U.S. Food & Drug Administration approval earlier this year.

The campaign encourages migraine sufferers to share their stories in an online community and on social media.

"I want to encourage people with migraines not to give up hope and to continue to work with their doctor to find something that works for them,” Kardashian said in a statement.

The 36-year-old celebrity has long been vocal about her lifelong struggle with migraines, which afflicts nearly 40 million people in the U.S., most of them women.

She said the pain was so bad it kept her from family, friends, work and spending time with her daughter, and she often felt stigmatized by people who didn’t understand the severity of the disease.

So when Biohaven began its commercial launch of the drug in March, company officials reached out to see if Kardashian was interested in trying it, CEO Dr. Vlad Coric said.

She asked her doctor for a prescription and “had a really good response,” Coric said. Coric said the company enlisted her as a paid spokeswoman only after she had tried Nurtec and responded successfully.

Landing a high-profile pitchwoman like Kardashian is a major score for the small New Haven drugmaker, which faces fierce competition in the migraine space from deep-pocketed pharma giants like Eli Lilly, Teva and Amgen.

Part of a new class of migraine drugs known as CGRP receptor antagonists, Nurtec dissolves in the mouth and works by blocking a chemical that transmits pain. Most other CGRP drugs require injection.

Kardashian said Biohaven’s drug was different from others she has tried.

“(It) worked fast and allowed me to get back to normal so that I could take back my day,” said Kardashian, who has promoted the treatment to the 28 million followers on her official Twitter account.

Kardashian told Coric that she had often been asked about her migraine treatment regimen over the years, but avoided answering the question because nothing really helped.

“She didn’t want to sound like there wasn’t any hope,” he said.

“I’ve been really impressed with her desire to empower other women (who make up the majority of migraine sufferers),” Coric added. “She viewed this as a way to use her platform to help others.”

– Natalie Missakian

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