There are 36 million people in the United States who live with migraines, and many of them treat headaches with the generic pill Imitrex.
The active ingredient, sumatriptan, was approved last year in a patch sold under the brand-name Zecuity by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
The battery-powered migraine patch is wrapped around the upper arm. It uses a small electrical current to deliver the drug through the skin for up to four hours.
The problem is that skin reactions are extremely common. In clinical trials, more than half of patients complained about redness and 25% complained about pain.
The manufacturer says it is normal to experience slight tingling in the first 30 seconds. However, the FDA has recently warned about a “large number” of reports involving severe skin reactions.
Some of the reports describe severe burns, permanent scars, skin discoloration, redness, pain, blisters, and cracked skin.
The FDA asks patients to take off the patch immediately if they experience moderate or severe burning or pain. Do not bathe, shower, or swim while wearing the patch.
What Causes Migraines?
About 12% of the population in the United States experience migraine headaches. They are caused by a temporary widening of blood vessels in the brain.
Migraines are characterized by extreme throbbing and pulsating pain, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and visual disturbances known as an “aura.”
Zecuity stops migraines by binding to serotonin receptors in nerve fibers and blood vessels in the brain.
Migraines are often triggered by hormonal changes in woman, certain foods or beverages (alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, aged cheese, etc.), stress, or changes in waking and sleeping patterns.