A migraine is much more than a severe headache. It is a syndrome characterized by debilitating neurological symptoms that can make even seeing a problem. Researchers who made a presentation at the 2014 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in San Diego have revealed a nasal spray treatment for migraines derived from prochlorperazine, FDA-approved medication that is used to treat severe nausea and vomiting.

"Prochloperazine is a dopamine receptor antagonist that is widely used as an anti-nausea medication,” Dr. Venkata Yellepeddi, from Roseman University of Health Sciences, said in a statement. “Comparative clinical studies have shown that prochloperazine provides better pain relief than other anti-migraine drugs such as sumatriptan, metoclopramide, and ketorolac.”

Yellepeddi and his colleagues say their preservative-free device-driven prochlorperazine nasal spray could be an effective, fasting-acting migraine solution that has better patient compliance. It will also be free from any preservative-related adverse side effects, including mucosal irritation. These side effects are often hallmarks of medications that come with preservatives, like benzalkonium chloride and potassium sorbate. The next step in their research will be to use animal models to test the safety and efficiency of the prochlorperazine nasal spray.

"Currently, there are no marketed nasal spray formulations of prochlorperazine available for the treatment of migraine,” Yellepeddi added. “Prochlorperazine is only available in tablet form, which has delayed onset of action.”

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, around 18 percent of women and six percent of men suffer from migraines. Migraines are among the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses. Over 10 percent of the world’s population, including children, suffer from migraines. There are three approaches to migraine treatment: drugs to relieve symptoms of an attack when they occur (acute treatment), drugs taken daily to reduce the frequency of attacks and pain intensity (preventive treatment), and non-drug-related treatments, including biofeedback, relaxation, techniques, acupuncture, exercise, and proper rest and diet (complementary treatment).

Source: Yellepeddi V, et al. First-in-class nasal spray demonstrates promise for migraine pain relief. American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition. 2014.