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Optinose Aims to Speed Up Migraine Relief

A new generation of headache treatments moving toward the market is based not on new drug formulations, but on making current drugs work faster and more effectively. Numerous presentations given at the International Headache Congress reported positive results regarding new drug delivery systems—from a sumatriptan patch being developed by NuPathe to an inhaled version of dihydroergotamine (DHE) under development by MAP Pharmaceuticals.

Two studies focused on a device being manufactured by Optinose, a Norwegian company, that is early in the process of development. The device is similar in appearance to an asthma inhaler and is breath actuated. According to the company, it can deliver intranasal drugs to targeted regions of the nasal cavity, including the sinuses and the olfactory region, without lung deposition, unlike traditional nasal inhalers, nasal sprays or nebulizers.

The benefit of the device for migraine sufferers is that it appears to enhance the delivery of migraine drugs to the trigeminal system, which is involved in the development of migraine attacks. Current formulations of the triptans have a limited ability to pass the blood-brain barrier, which may explain why high doses are needed. Phase I and Phase II studies of the Optinose device used a sumatriptan (Imitrex®) nasal powder and compared its effectiveness to sumatriptan nasal spray and tablets. The powder form was absorbed more rapidly and at significantly lower doses (7.5 mg nasal powder vs. 20 mg nasal spray and 100 mg tablets), while pain relief came faster and with fewer side effects.

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