The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer's rapid nasal spray to treat migraines. Pfizer expects the drug, marketed under the name Zavzpret, to be available in pharmacies by July 2023.
"The FDA approval of Zavzpret marks a significant breakthrough for people with migraine who need freedom from pain and prefer alternative options to oral medications," Pfizer chief commercial officer and president of global biopharmaceuticals business Angela Hwang said in a statement.
"Zavzpret underscores Pfizer’s commitment to delivering an additional treatment option to help people with migraine gain relief and get back to their daily lives. Pfizer will continue to build its migraine franchise to further support the billions of people worldwide impacted by this debilitating disease."
A phase 3 study found it could relieve migraine pain in some patients in just 15 minutes.
"When a migraine hits, it has a significant negative impact on a person’s daily life," said Kathleen Mullin, M.D., Associate Medical Director at New England Institute for Neurology & Headache. "Among my migraine patients, one of the most important attributes of an acute treatment option is how quickly it works. As a nasal spray with rapid drug absorption, ZAVZPRET offers an alternative treatment option for people who need pain relief or cannot take oral medications due to nausea or vomiting, so they can get back to normal function quickly."
The treatment was tested on a sample of 1,405 people, with half taking a single dose of the spray and the rest receiving placebos.
The spray was found to significantly reduce migraine pain when assessed two hours after the onset of symptoms, which in addition to severe headaches can often include nausea and a sensitivity to light or noise.
Pfizer acquired Zavzpet last year for about $10 billion from Biohaven, along with other migraine treatments from the company.
"Every day in Israel there are 40,000 migraine attacks and headaches are a major problem for humans."Amnon Musk
There are 40,000 migraine attacks in Israel every day
"Every day in Israel there are 40,000 migraine attacks and headaches are a major problem for humans," said Dr. Amnon Musk of Sourasky Medical Center in Tel Aviv.
"A few years ago, a World Health Organization study came out that looked at the burden of diseases on people. It turns out that the main diseases that cause the most suffering and functional impairment are back pain and migraines, beating out cancer, blood pressure and diabetes.
And it isn't just that. Headaches are very common. It's a serious problem. Most people treat them as if 'everyone has it, take something for it and it will go away,' but this is a real and difficult problem that causes a lot of pain and suffering," Musk said. "There are several different types of headaches and each one has a different kind of treatment that warrants its own diagnosis."
In any case, if the headaches repeat often, it is important to check why and not neglect it.
"Today, there are many good treatments available," Musk said. "There is no need to suffer."