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Headache-Adviser Newsletter, Issue #23 Needles No More!
May 08, 2010

New Options To Treat Migraine

I had been hesitating to discuss the new needle free injector for sumatriptan until several of my patients could try it and give me some feedback.

If you will recall, sumatriptan is the generic name for Imitrex, the first triptan developed to treat migraines. One of the drawbacks of this excellent medication has been that needle. The original Imitrex Statdose injectable is a subcutaneous needle that quickly delivers sumatriptan into the body.

This is a great option if your migraines take off fast say within 20 minutes or so you are in severe pain. These types of migraines generally respond better to an injectable.

So What Is Sumavel?

The big difference between Sumavel and the Imitrex Statdose is (TA-DA!)....NO NEEDLE. Yes you read that correctly.

This system is a needless injection system that uses air to deliver the medication through the skin. The photo above is the Sumavel Dose Pro injector.

This has been several years in development and can truly work well for migraine AND cluster headaches when patients have needle phobias.

Initial reports are that it also does not sting as much as the needle injections. You also do not have to hold this as long on the skin, unlike the needle system which needs a few seconds for full delivery.

One other area where this is great is for those people who have true vasovagal reactions to needles. I actually have a few of these people and they cannot get an injection without passing out. Not their fault, just a reaction from the brain.

Side Effects And Precautions

Side effects can include redness to the area of injection and induration (swelling) but the induration can be avoided by pinching the skin before injection.

As with any triptan, you may get a sense of chest tightness that could be related to anxiety.

NO triptan should be taken in patients with known coronary artery disease, uncontrolled hypertension, history of cardiac disease, heart attack or stroke. They should not be used in pregnancy UNLESS under the direct supervision of your OB/GYN and neurologist.

Where To Get It

As always, ask your doctor. Samples are available in offices now, with coupons for co-pays. Since this is a new product it will be on the highest tier of co-pays for many insurance companies, but you will have to check with your own to be sure.

Update On Telcagepant

At the present time, Telcagepant is in the initial stages of a new clinical trial. This was warranted due to previous reports of elevated liver enzymes when the medication was used for migraine.

If I hear anything new about the trials I will post it on the blog at Headache-Adviser Blog.

Don't forget, you can always sign up for the RSS feed at

Here's To Headache Free Days

Take care..

Mary Kay Betz, MS RPA-C
Physician Assistant

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