ZECUITY, the drug formerly known as the Zelrix Migraine Patch, finally got its approval from the FDA on Thursday (the 17th of January 2013). It should be available in the United States toward the end of this year.
The medication at the core of ZECUITY is familiar to most migraineurs – sumatriptan (which has been sold under the brand names such as Imitrex and Imigran). But it’s much more than just another brand of the same thing.
Many migraineurs have found that common triptan drugs (such as this) don’t work for them. There are a number of reasons for this, but a common one is that the medication is not getting to where it needs to be at the right time. Drugs taken orally may sit in the stomach and not be delivered properly (due to gastric stasis, a common issue for migraineurs). Or they simply don’t get it into their system fast enough to fight the migraine chain-reaction (remember, this is not a preventative – it’s taken for a specific migraine attack (abortive)).
Oh, and let’s not forget the nausea associated with migraine. Who wants to take anything orally?!
This particular patch, which delivers the sumatriptan though your skin, contains a microprocessor. The patch is “activated”, and delivers the medication using a mild electrical pulse. This is known as iontophoretic delivery.
The microprocessor actually “customized” the delivery somewhat – monitoring how well it’s being absorbed and adjusting the delivery to match.
The advantages? The medication is delivered at just the right time, in just the right amount. Patients who were never helped by sumatriptan before may be helped now. And patients who suffered from side effects before may now be able to avoid them.
This delivery patch is being used already for other medications, such as anti-inflammatories. If it works well with sumatriptan (or should I say – if it sells well!), it will no doubt be used with other migraine medications.
Now for the question everyone is asking – does it hurt?
Generally speaking, the adhesive seems to be an issue for more people than the mild electric current. If you have allergies to adhesives, the ZECUITY adhesive may cause problems.
The delivery of the medication may include a slight tingling or warm sensation – but from what I’ve heard so far it seems to be painless for most people.
Get more details at the official ZECUITY website.