Methysergide-containing medicines

Current status:
Opinion provided by Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use

Overview

Restrictions on the use of methysergide-containing medicines

On 20 February 2014, the European Medicines Agency recommended restricting the use of methysergide due to concerns that it could cause fibrosis, a condition in which fibrous (scar) tissue accumulates in the body's organs potentially damaging them. Methysergide medicines are now only to be used for preventing severe intractable migraines and cluster headaches (a type of severe, recurring headache on one side of the head, usually around the eye) when standard medicines have failed.

In addition, treatment should only be started and supervised by a specialist doctor with experience in treating migraine and cluster headaches. Patients should also be screened for fibrosis at the start of treatment and should have additional screenings every 6 months. Treatment must be discontinued if symptoms of fibrosis occur.

The Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), which conducted the review, noted that these recommendations were necessary due to the reports of fibrosis seen with methysergide and other medicines of the same class (ergot derivatives). The symptoms of fibrosis often take some time to appear and without screening the diagnosis may come too late to prevent severe (and potentially life-threatening) damage to organs .

Regarding the benefits, the Committee noted that there is some evidence of a clinically relevant effect of methysergide when used for prevention in patients who regularly get migraines and cluster headaches and for whom treatment options are limited. Methysergide has also been used for treating diarrhoea caused by carcinoid disease (a slow-growing tumour that commonly affects the gut). However, there were no data to support this use and Methysergide should therefore no longer be used in carcinoid disease.

The prescribing information for physicians and information in the patients' information leaflet has been updated. The CHMP recommendations were sent to the European Commission, which has endorsed them and issued a final legally-binding decision that is valid throughout the EU.

Key facts

Approved name
Methysergide-containing medicines
International non-proprietary name (INN) or common name
methysergide
Associated names
  • Deseril
  • Desernil
Class
Ergot alkaloids
Reference number
EMEA/H/A-31/1335
Type
Article 31 referrals

This type of referral is triggered when the interest of the Union is involved, following concerns relating to the quality, safety or efficacy of a medicine or a class of medicines.

Status
Opinion provided by Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use
Opinion date
20/02/2014
EC decision date
28/04/2014

All documents

Document description

  • Questions and answers (Q&A) - easy-to-understand summary of key issues and Committee conclusions
  • Summary of Opinion - contains the CHMP opinion of the referred medicine(s)
  • List of the medicines affected by the referral (Annex I)
  • Scientific conclusions of the Committee (Annex II)

The following two documents are sometimes available:

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