Patch to treat migraines being tested

(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
(Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
Published: Nov. 19, 2018 at 10:31 PM CST
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(KFVS/CBS) - Millions of Americans suffer from migraines, and it’s not just the pounding headaches that can make them unbearable.

“You have associated nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light, sensitivity to sounds, some people have sensitivity to smells. They can be very debilitating,” said Dr. Andrew Godbey, a neurologist with Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.

There are many medicines for migraine sufferers currently on the market, but Dr. Godbey said none are specifically for treating a migraine. They are designed for things like high blood pressure, depression, and seizures.

"We have three forms we use for migraines right now: tablets, nasal sprays, and an injection."

The side effects from current medications can be nearly as bad as the headache. But that is changing. Dr. Godbey said new medication is specifically for treating migraines, reducing some of those side effects. It’s called CGRP Antagonists.

“You inject them, they're injectables, they're an antibody. You can inject either once a month or once every three months. In terms of migraines and in terms of migraine management, that's the future and what we're going to see. You don't have to take a pill every day. You don't have all the side effects associated with that.”

Another migraine treatment currently being tested is a patch that promises relief in less time and with fewer side effects. Glen Brown is one of those testing the new patch. He has been battling migraines since he was a teenager.

“Sometimes they are moderate, sometimes severe. Between work, house stuff, and the kid’s life is so busy. But if you have a migraine, you are out of commission,” says Brown.

His doctor told him about this experimental patch.

“A medication taken in tablet form doesn’t really get absorbed well enough or rapidly enough to provide effective headache relief,” said Dr. Egilius Spierings with Tufts Medical Center.

The patch is from Zosano Pharma. The system uses tiny needles coated with medication to deliver a migraine drug right into the bloodstream.

“Once the patch is applied to the skin these microneedles will penetrate the skin, generally not even deep enough to hit the nerve. “It’s not a painful procedure. But deep enough to bring the medication into the circulation,” said Dr. Spierings.

Glen has been using the patch for six months. He says it’s providing relief in just 20 to 45 minutes and he doesn’t feel as sluggish. So far, researchers say patients are tolerating the patch system well and no serious side effects have been reported. Currently about 250 patients are enrolled in the study testing the new patch system.

Copyright 2018 KFVS. All rights reserved. CBS contributed to this story.