Nasal Spray May Ease Cluster Headaches

Study Shows Migraine Drug Zomig May Treat Cluster Headaches, Too

By Miranda Hitti
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 28, 2007 -- The prescription nasal spray Zomig, which is used to treat migraines, may ease cluster headaches.

That's according to a new study published in today's edition of the journal Neurology.

Cluster headache, which is a severe type of headache disorder, affects less than 1% of the public, note the researchers, who included Alan Rapoport, MD, of The New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Conn.

Rapoport and colleagues studied 52 adults aged 23-65 (average age: 45) who had cluster headaches.

Rapoport's team gave each patient a nasal spray. Some patients got sprays containing 5 milligrams of Zomig. Others got a 10-milligram Zomig spray. For comparison, a third group of patients got a spray containing no medicine.

The patients didn't know whether their nasal spray contained Zomig. They were told to use their nasal spray when a cluster headache began.

Patients reported how long their cluster headaches lasted. Both doses of Zomig trumped the placebo.

For instance, half an hour after cluster headaches started, headache relief was reported by 63% of patients using the 10-milligram Zomig spray, 50% of those using the 5-milligram Zomig spray, and 30% of those using the placebo spray.

Patients using the Zomig nasal sprays were more likely than those using the placebo spray to report side effects. Those side effects -- which included discomfort in the nasal cavity, bad taste, dizziness, sleepiness, nausea, and tightness in the throat, chest, and neck -- were typical of Zomig's class of drugs, according to the researchers.

Zomig isn't approved by the FDA to treat cluster headaches, Rapoport and colleagues warn. They point out that the only drug currently approved by the FDA to treat cluster headaches is injectable Imitrex, which is also used to treat migraines.

Rapoport's study was funded by AstraZeneca, the drug company that makes Zomig.

SOURCES: Rapoport, A. Neurology, Aug. 28, 2007; vol 69: pp 821-826. WebMD Health News: "Migraine Remedy Aids Cluster Headaches." News release, American Academy of Neurology.

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