A new nasal spray for migraines promises a clearer head in minutes

Anyone who suffers from migraines knows just how debilitating they can be, but D.C.-area doctors say a new medication set to hit the market soon could change all that.

Some medical professionals even say it has game-changing potential for certain patients.

The new nasal spray medication called Zavegepant, generic for Zavzpret, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in March, and is expected to hit pharmacies later this month or early July.

Dr. Laura Cinski, a neurologist and headache specialist with Inova Health System in Northern Virginia, told WTOP that the medicine is taken just like a nasal spray for allergies and that “people will take this once they’ve already had a migraine attack start.”

Even though there are a handful of nasal spray treatments for migraines already on the market, Cinski said Zavegepant is unique because “it’s first in class for its particular mode of delivery.”

“So it works by targeting a very specific chemical in the brain called ‘calcitonin gene-related peptide,’ or CGRP for short,” she explained. Scientists have recently determined that CGRP is actually the root cause of a lot of the inflammation and pain you feel when a migraine comes on.

“How Zavegepant works is by blocking the receptors that CGRP would need to bind to and cause trouble,” Cinski went on.

But the best part is how quickly the medicine takes effect.

As Cinski explains, nasal sprays have a clear advantage when it comes to immediate relief.

“They tend to have a quicker onset of action because of how quickly they’re absorbed over a pill, let’s say,” she told WTOP. “In the research, a significant portion of people start to have pain relief by the 15-minute mark.”

Cinski says just 15 minutes is a huge improvement when you consider just how debilitating a migraine can be.

“They’re actually rated by the World Health Organization as the second most common cause of disability,” she said, adding that nearly one in five people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches — making them the most common domestic headache disorder. In other words, a medication like Zavegepant could mean you’re able to get back to school, work, your family and life more quickly.

“Having a medication that’s easily and quickly absorbed and well tolerated could make a huge difference,” Cinski said. “It’s really a huge improvement in terms of the level of disability and their quality of life.”

Cinski warns that not all medications work for everyone, and that there are still other alternative treatments for migraines out there, some of them even being nasal sprays. But this new, unique medicine is one she said she’s optimistic about.

Cinski also says it’s important to consult your doctor, so ask them about Zavegepant if you suffer from these headaches and are looking for something new to clear your head in potentially record time.

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Matt Kaufax

If there's an off-the-beaten-path type of attraction, person, or phenomenon in the DC area that you think more people should know about, Matt is your guy. As the features reporter for WTOP, he's always on the hunt for stories that provide a unique local flavor—a slice of life if you will.

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