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Teva Pharmaceuticals Announces Zecuity, a Patch for Migraine Relief

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Migraines are the worst. Not only do they make you feel like your head is exploding, but 70 percent of sufferers also get nausea. But now, relief may be just a sticker away. Teva Pharmaceuticals just announced Zecuity, the first migraine patch designed to deliver a powerful dose of medicine via your skin. (It's available now, but only through a prescription.)

For the 18 percent of women who suffer from repeat migraines, this news couldn't come soon enough. Migraines are best known for causing excruciating pain, but the head-splitting feeling commonly comes with auras (visual disturbances), sensitivity to sound and light, dizziness, and nausea. This can make it difficult to even think of moving off the bed, much less trying to swallow a pill. (Did you know you can Naturally Relieve a Headache with Yoga?) Worse, people who are feeling particularly puke-y may not be able to keep medicine down even if they do take it—something that can cause their migraines to be even more debilitating.

But now, the company says, as soon as you feel a migraine coming on, you can apply the sticky patch to your upper arm or thigh. The patch will then release sumatriptan (also known as Imitrex) transdermally over a four-hour period. (Plus, try these 12 Natural Headache Remedies That Really Work.) It does seem to offer some relief. In clinical trials, 18 percent of people wearing the patch reported their headache was gone after two hours, compared to just 9 percent on a placebo patch. In addition, 84 percent of patch-wearers felt no more nausea and about half said their light and sound sensitivities were gone.

Unfortunately, the most commonly reported side effect was unspecified pain—and the patch still left over 80 percent of people with some or all of the intense headache. This isn't unusual in the notoriously tricky field of migraine treatments, though. Oral doses of triptans, the most popular prescription migraine medications, have similar success rates.

But if you're one of the 36 million Americans with migraines, this patch may be a gentler, more convenient way to get the meds you need so you can be back on your feet as soon as possible. And at the risk of sounding like a drug commercial: Talk to your doctor to see if Zecuity is right for you. But seriously, if you have chronic migraines, it's worth a convo. Treatment options—both medical and non-medical—are constantly getting better.

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