INDIANAPOLIS - A tactic used to put an end to migraines has been available for a couple years in England and was just approved by the FDA. Although it’s not yet commercially available here in the United States, it has migraine experts -- and migraine sufferers -- excited about the first new therapy in years.
“I think I’ve had migraines since I was about 4 or 5 years old," Peggy Kovach said.
Kovach knows the excruciating pain of migraines. She's tried just about every treatment available.
"It's really indescribable sometimes how bad it is -- and how long it lasts and how it incapacitates me," Kovach said.
Now, she and the millions of other Americans who suffer migraines have a brand-new option.
Just days ago, the FDA approved the "Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator."
"Basically, it is a way to deliver an electric current magnetically through the skull to stimulate the brain," St. Vincent Health neurologist and headache specialist Dr. Mike Sermersheim said. "And it delivers a millisecond pulse and it's a one-time delivery."
The magnet therapy is effective for 34 percent of patients. But a drug-free option is groundbreaking for those with heart disease who can't tolerate the current migraine medicines on the market.
"It's very exciting. We really haven't had a new medication for several years," Dr. Sermersheim said. "And everything that's been in the pipeline has crashed and burned either for liver failure or lack of response."
Kovach is now responding well to her current medication. But she sees how the new magnetic treatment could be a life-saver for those trying to beat the pain before it becomes unbearable.
"Because once I catch it, if I catch it in time, then I can avoid having a lot more, like the nausea and stuff like that, with it," Kovach said.
There's no word from the FDA yet on how soon the device will be available for purchase here in America.
Right now, the device costs roughly $1,200. But with some migraine medicines costing $250 a month, the machine’s cost would even out in 6 months. It’s worth the investment, if it works, experts said.
Doctors said some hospitals may offer it for rental first, so patients can try it out.
Several factors can increase migraines this time of year: sweets and alcohol at holiday parties, holiday stress and more exposure to indoor allergens.