Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zelrix Migraine Patch

You might have heard some previous talk about the NuPathe Zelrix Migraine Patch. It was up for FDA review earlier this year, but FDA approval was delayed as they asked for additional information from NuPathe to help make their decision.

You may want to read about the FDA Approval process of the Zelrix Migraine Patch in a post Diana Lee put together on Migraine.Com. She explains how the FDA “looks for weaknesses in the manufacturer’s data and decides whether it agrees with the conclusions made in the application. The agency’s goal is to review and act on at least 90% of drug applications within 10 months of being filed. If the team decides the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks, they will approve it. Sometimes the FDA team will ask for additional information to help in making their decision.”

I know there have been times I couldn’t take an oral triptan because of extreme nausea and I couldn’t use a nasal spray triptan because of congestion or the feeling that it would make my nausea worse and my doctor does not believe in the injectable triptans because many patients find them hard to use so I would find myself without a way to abort my Migraine.

The Zelrix patch is a great alternative to these other delivery methods. The Zelrix patch bypasses the digestive system, is less likely to increase nausea and would not be affected by vomiting or congestion. You can read more about the Zelrix Patch on the NuPathe site. “Zelrix, is an active, single-use transdermal sumatriptan patch that we are developing for the treatment of acute migraine. Zelrix utilizes SmartRelief, our proprietary transdermal delivery technology. SmartRelief consists of a controlled delivery technology that uses a mild electrical current to actively deliver medication through the skin in a process called iontophoresis. Zelrix was designed to overcome several of the key limitations associated with current migraine treatments.”

I feel that the Zelrix patch fills a big void in the Migraine marketplace. It’s definitely something I want to try especially on those days I have no other alternative way to take a triptan. I’m sure the FDA is over worked and under a lot of pressure to review many of the applications they receive, but I’m not sure they understand the need for more Migraine products.

So what have I done about this?

I sent an email to Russell Katz, MD the Division Director of Neurology Products at the FDA. Teri Robert wrote about the letter she sent in her post about the FDA Approval of Zelrix Migraine Patch Delayed . As Teri said, “emails from consumers (that’s us!) can’t hurt at this point and could help with the approval of Zelrix. If you’d like to send him an email, his email address is”

If you would like to send one too, you will need to hurry as I believe the FDA and NuPathe are expected to meet again on November 9th so emails would have to be sent before then.

We need to start helping ourselves and fellow Migraineurs when it comes to our Migraines. What are you going to do now?


Friday, October 14, 2011

Rewrite Your Day Lost to Chronic Migraine

How many times have you missed an important day because of your Chronic Migraines? I know that's probably a silly question and you can think of many occasions you missed and would probably love to have back. You now have a chance to win back some of that lost time.

Which event would you want to take back if you could rewrite that moment so you could live it the way you should have enjoyed it the first time around until your Chronic Migraines got in your way?

Tell us about it and win the chance to rewrite that missed day. Many people don't understand the constant struggles we go through; the special times we miss because of Chronic Migraines.

By sharing your story, you will help bring knowledge and understanding to how Chronic Migraine affects your life; our lives. Fifteen entrants with Chronic Migraines will have their special moment recreated by celebrity event planner Mindy Weiss. The fifteen winners will be selected by Mindy and an independent panel of health advocates.

This Chronic Migraine awareness campaign is brought to you by Allergan who partnered with the National Headache Foundation, HealthyWomen and Mindy Weiss to help recreate the missed moment for fifteen Chronic Migraineurs. This is your chance to gain back that important event you lost because of Chronic Migraine while helping others to recognize our constant fights.

For a complete set of rules and to enter the rewrite your day campaign, visit the rewrite your day website.

Rewrite your day because your life's stories shouldn't be written by Chronic Migraines. Win back the day you lost!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Which Insurance Option

My company is 'improving' its health insurance coverage starting the beginning of next year. Oh boy, I can't wait! I must make a decision on which route I want to go soon.

On the surface, I could choose to have a very similar type of coverage that I have this year. I currently have my company's option 2 for insurance which is going away and it will be replaced by some Consumer Driven Health Plan (CDHP). It sounds real consumer friendly, doesn't it?

Here are my choices. I can choose to have a 305% premium increase if I go with option 1 or no premium increase if I go with the CDHP. I can elect to have the exact same coverage I have today with option 1 except the deductible would be slightly lower, but my increased premium more than exceeds this difference.

With the CDHP, I must meet the deductible before any health benefit coverage kicks in. It sounds like an easy choice until you find out that the deductible for the CDHP is $3800. This means that I would have to pay $3800 out of pocket, while still paying my premium, before the 80/20 coverage kicks in. On the plus side, prescriptions would count toward that $3800, but there would be no script coverage either until that deductible is met.

The 305% premium increase would take me a few years of salary increases to make up the difference which assumes there are merit increases and no premium increases like this again. The CDHP also comes with a Health Savings Account (HSA). This is similar to a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) except that it's not a use it or lose it plan like the FSA; it goes into a savings account and can be carried over from year to year forever to pay for medical expenses if you don't spend it.

Migraines and not spend money on my health? Not anytime soon for me which means with the CDHP, I would most likely pay the $3800 plus premiums before I have any health coverage. I could use the HSA toward the $3800, but that would still come out of my paycheck. So isn’t the $3800 deductible like a premium payment if you’re pretty sure you’re going to hit it? Even if it does include prescriptions toward the deductible, no prescriptions are covered until the deductible is met; you have to pay 100% prescriptions until that time.

Let’s see, guaranteed 305% premiums increase with the same medical coverage or pay $3800 plus premium before any health is covered? Migraines. Migraine Specialist. Additional Migraine tests. Another ultrasound needed. Who knows what new treatments are to come? All of this doesn’t include the other members of my family and their expenses.

I’m so glad my health benefits are ‘improving’ next year! Are your benefits getting better too?


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Migraine Conference

I went to the National Headache Foundation (NHF) conference in the Big Apple yesterday. I liked the way they organized the conference and the presentations. We had four great doctors talk; Dr Mark Green, who was also the Moderator, Dr Richard Lipton, Dr Alexander Mauskop and Dr Carolyn Britton. Each doctor did an excellent job!

I have to tell you that I got so many different things out of the conference that I didn't expect to gain. The first silly thing is that although I believe there is help out there for things like weather or hormonal triggers, whenever I have brought them up to any of my doctors, they pretty much told me that nothing could be done to help. It was very strange to actually hear doctors talk about things that can be tried to help us with these triggers. Even if they don't work for everyone, at least something is being tried that has worked for others. It was very refreshing.

I also picked up on additional aura's I have that I had never associated with my Migraines. I've read about them a gazillion times, but I don't know why I never linked them to me before. I can think of two different reasons for my oversite. First of all, when I keep my diary, I usually start after the Migraine hits. I know I should be keeping track of everything that goes on all the time because if I did, I might have picked up on some of these signs a little sooner than in a conference.

Second, I've had these symptoms for a long time. I know I've had Migraines since I was about six because I remember going to the doctor for headaches at that age. I can also remember some of the more severe episodes throughout the years which I thought were normal headaches, but definitely know now that they were not usual. I never connected some of these long time symptoms with my headaches and even after I was officially diagnosed, because these warning signs were still typical to me and just another thing I figured happened to everyone every so often.

I've heard people talking about blurry vision as an aura all of the time. After watching a video, I discovered that was me! I have had this from time to time, but I would blame it on my tired eyes or my contacts when I wore them and just tried to gently rub my vision clear. It never worked, but it wouldn't stop me from trying again because it had to work sometime.

Another visual aura? Someone talked about having problems reading because the words were jumping all over the page. I thought I was just overly tired when that happened, even if I had a good nights sleep and didn't really feel tired. I knew it didn't make logical sense, but I could make myself understand that excuse.

The only real complaint I had about the conference was that the room was a little too bright. I had my hat and could block out most of the light, but I would have expected the lights to be dimmer especially given the audience. I know I should have said something, but sometimes so I don't say something unfiltered and in a tone I don't want to use, I will stay quiet. I've learned that from work.

This room also helped me identify another symptom I had excused away in the past, but will know to look for it in the future. I yawn. It is a different yawn from my tired yawn. These are three more symptoms I know I can look for to warn myself that a Migraine may be coming that I don't think I would have noticed if I hadn't gone to the conference.

I think everyone was somewhat amused or at least could relate to a story Dr Lipton told about his son. He diagnosed his son at home when his son was twelve with having Migraines. Dr Lipton's mother wanted him to get an official diagnosis even though he is a neurologist with a sub-specialty in headaches.

His wife took their son to his very competent pediatrician who said she wanted him tested for Lyme disease or said it could be a sinus headache. When is wife asked about Migraine, the pediatrician pretty much said it couldn't be that, even though there was a family history, and also said that even if it was Migraine, there would be nothing they could do to help with the Migraines. That statement emphasizes how a lot of doctors don't understand Migraine or how to treat it. It's very frustrating, but I don't have to tell you that!

The conference was about Bridging the Gap Between Patient & Clinician. Each physician took a different area to talk about. The topics that were discussed at our conference were: Migraine Impact, Treatment of Migraine, Variety of Headaches and Pitfalls in Headache Management.

Each doctor had a little skit done with their presentation. I think this helped reinforce their topics. For me, I am hoping that it will make me an even better patient especially as I start preparing for a new doctor. It's very important that we tell our doctors exactly what is going on with our headaches and any new symptoms we may experience.

Each item we explain or when a new symptom occurs, can give our doctors the clues they need to properly treat us or give them an indication to run additional tests. It can also be valuable to ourselves to fully explain the impact Migraine has in our lives. This would include all aspects of your life; work, home, social, etc. How is a doctor supposed to know how Migraines really affect us unless we specifically tell them?

I really enjoyed the conference and would attend another one in the future. The NHF said they would like to keep having these conferences and is planning additional ones in the future. I can't wait!