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Tuesday, 29 October, 2002, 08:31 GMT
Nasal spray for migraine
Treating migraine has proved difficult
A nasal spray to tackle migraine has been launched in the UK.

The makers say it can start to provide relief from symptoms within 15 minutes - much faster than traditional pill-based treatments.

The Zomig Nasal Spray will be available on prescription only.

Migraine is the most common neurological condition in the developed world. It affects around 12% of the population - more than 10 million sufferers in the UK alone.

It is more common among women. The reason for this is not known, but it is thought that stress may be a significant factor.

As well as severe headaches, migraine can cause sickness and vomiting.

It also slows down the digestive process, meaning that pills taken to relieve symptoms can take longer to take effect.

Nasal absorption

The nasal spray minimises the problem as up to 30% of the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream through the nasal passage instead of the gut.

The spray does not work for all patients, but trials carried out by the maker's AstraZeneca should that the drug brought relief within two hours for 70% of patients - compared to just 30% of those taking a standard pill preparation.

Dr Andy Dowson, director of the King's Headache Service, Kings College Hospital, led the UK clinical trials.

He said: "The symptoms of migraine vary enormously and sufferers need a choice of treatment.

"Doctors need to take patients' needs and preferences into account when treating migraine and a range of formulations is required to ensure that patients get optimal therapy every time.

"Unfortunately migraine is not taken seriously enough, and we know that as many as 60% of sufferers don't talk to a GP about their condition.

"However, effective treatments such as this, give us the opportunity to help patients significantly improve their quality of life."

Ann Turner, director of the Migraine Action Association, said: "The most effective treatment for any migraine patient is one that offers them convenient relief from their symptoms as quickly as possible.

"Therefore, the speed of action and convenience of Zomig nasal spray offers patients flexibility to live their lives without disruption."

It is thought that migraine might be linked to a drop in the brain chemical serotonin, which plays a central role in controlling mood and emotion.

The Migraine Action Association estimates that sick days due to migraine cost UK businesses as much as 750 million in lost production every year.

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