As many as 100,000 people in the U.S. suffer from migraine headaches every day, and the pain can be so debilitating that they are unable to perform their normal daily activities. This leads to more than 150 million lost workdays and productivity losses in the tens of billions of dollars. The typical treatment is to take pain relieving drugs, along with more powerful medicines as needed.
Researchers have developed a new form of drug-free treatment. Electrical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has been shown to provide relief and even prevent migraine headaches. VNS implants to treat epilepsy were approved by the FDA in 1997, and have also been approved for the treatment of depression. The problem is that these devices require invasive surgery to place the implants, making the treatment costly.
electroCore has developed a non-invasive VNS device, the gammaCore. This handheld device delivers electrical stimulation for 90-second treatment sessions. Studies have shown the device to be effective, such as reducing frequency of migraines or as a treatment for menstrual migraines. The device has CE approval for use in the European Union and other countries, but has not received FDA approval yet. The gammaCore is being used in experimental trials in the U.S., however, so it may be on the path to approval.