National Headache Foundation Shares Info That Could Benefit America’s 45 Million Sufferers
Chicago, IL -February 6, 2006 - It was in 1992 that the first triptan drug designed for the acute treatment of migraine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ushering in a new era of drug research and development for migraine and chronic headache sufferers. Not only did headache sufferers find that a new line of targeted medications was available to treat their headaches, but the pharmaceutical industry finally took note of a large population in need of more effective medications.
“For many years, there was limited research on headache,” said Seymour Diamond, M.D., cofounder of the National Headache Foundation, “but the approval of the triptan drugs for the acute treatment of migraine opened up the industry to the realization that there was a financial market out there for drugs for the long-standing headache sufferer. It is now interested in looking for newer and better methods.”
Studies such as the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study (AMPP), sponsored by the National Headache Foundation, have been revealing the large numbers of migraine and chronic headache sufferers who are not getting adequate treatment or the relief they need.
Reasons for discontent with current medications include:
- Slow onset of action
- Migraine recurrence
- Side effects
- Residual disability after treatment.
Over 20 pharmaceutical and biotech companies are currently researching or developing new drugs to address headache and migraine. The road to drug approval is long: it takes 10-15 years on average for an experimental drug to travel from the lab to the drug store, and there are many steps along the way. Only one in five drugs tested on humans is ultimately approved. Here’s a look at some headache products in the pipeline that have made it past the discovery phase and are currently undergoing clinical trials:
Inhalation Device-Uses heat to vaporize a drug into an odorless mist that passes through the lungs into the bloodstream. The hope is to provide relief within 60 seconds. The device is currently in clinical trials using prochlorperazine. (Staccato ® from Alexza Molecular Delivery Corp.)
Skin Patch-Uses low-level electrical energy to release drugs into the skin. The system uses a transdermal patch containing the drug and a small battery-powered electronic controller that precisely controls the rate and amount of drug released from the patch. The patch is currently in clinical trials using zolmitriptan. (Actyve ® from Vyteris)
Nasal Powder-A powder form of dihydroergotamine is being studied. Currently administered as a nasal spray, the powder form may be easier to use and more rapidly absorbed. (DHE Nasal Powder from Britannia Pharmaceuticals in collaboration with Novartis Pharmaceuticals)
Drug Combination-A combination of a sumatriptan (a triptan) and naproxen sodium (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory) provide faster pain relief combined than individually. (Trexima ® from Pozen Inc. in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline)
Medications with New Uses-Drugs that were previously used to treat other conditions such as epilepsy, depression and Alzheimer’s are now being studied for their potential impact on headaches and migraines. Medications involved in current clinical trials include; Tripleptal ®, an anticonvulsant; (Novartis), doxepin an antidepressant (Winston Laboratories), Aricept ®, an Alzheimer’s drug (Eisai), and diclofenac potassium, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (ProEthic Pharmaceuticals).
Carbon Dioxide Inhaler-Sends pressurized carbon dioxide up one nostril and out the other. Carbon dioxide would not be inhaled; rather it would permeate nasal mucous membranes. (Capnia)
AK Receptor Antagonist-Selectively blocks transmission of pain signals from receptors without constricting blood vessels. (TorreyPines Therapeutics)
Capsaicin Nasal Spray-Capsaicin is the ingredient in cayenne pepper that gives it its hot and spicy taste. Relieves pain by destroying a chemical that carries pain messages to the brain. (Winston Laboratories)
Medical Procedures-The patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a valve-like opening between the right and left atrial chambers of the heart, which usually closes shortly after birth, however, it remains open in approximately 25 percent of people Surgeons have begun closing PFOs in patients with intractable migraine, finding a decrease in migraine and cluster headaches. A number of companies are studying the potential connection between PFO closure and migraines and are developing better techniques for surgical closure. (Premere ® from St. Jude Medical Center,).
Medical Devices-A number of companies are developing neurostimulation devices for headache sufferers who have not responded to other treatments. (Precision ® from Advanced Bionics Corporation, Genesis ® Neurostimulation System from Advanced Neuromodulation Systems, Medtronic Synergy ® IPG from Medtronic, Inc., Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy from Cyberonics.)
“While these new treatment options have interesting potential, the reality is that some will prove to be effective while others won’t, and headache sufferers should continue to work closely with their healthcare providers to decide upon the most effective course of treatment,” said Diamond.
The National Headache Foundation, founded in 1970 is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving headache sufferers, their families and the healthcare providers who treat them; promoting research into headache causes and treatments; and educating the public to the fact that headaches are a legitimate biological disease and that sufferers should receive understanding and continuity of care.
For more information on headache causes and treatments, visit www.headaches.org or call 1-888-NHF-5552 (M-F. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST). Interviews with NHF Executive Director Suzanne Simons and/or a physician expert are available upon request. For an electronic copy of this release, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org For a complete copy of the “What’s in the Future for the Treatment of Headache” and “Neurostimulators in the Treatment of Headache” articles featured in issue #148 of NHF Head Line, e-mail email@example.com.
Suzanne E. Simons
National Headache Foundation