Orlando, Fla. Migraine sufferers might get rid of their headaches in the future by wearing a patch on their foreheads that delivers a small dose of anesthesia, according to researchers.
The method would be the first of its kind for migraines, and early tests showed that some patients got complete relief with few side effects.
More testing is needed, but researchers think the patch might become an option for the estimated 20 million Americans who suffer from the painful condition.
"It's been under study for a long time, but the problem has always been delivery of the drug in a safe and controlled fashion," said Dr. Frederick Freitag, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. "There have been patches on the market for many years for high blood pressure, motion sickness and other things, but never for migraines. It's not an easy thing to do."
Freitag presented an early study on the approach at a conference of the American Society for Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics, which is meeting this week in Orlando.
He cautioned that only 40 patients were involved in the first experiment and larger groups are planned in the future to test the method more rigorously.
For the first study, some people were given an anesthesia called lidocaine in a cream that they rubbed on their foreheads at the start of a migraine. In future tests, the cream will be delivered through a Band-Aid like patch. Other patients received a placebo so their reactions could be compared with the others. None of them experienced relief.