Tests on migraine patch show promise

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WATERTOWN, Mass. (CBS) Glen Brown has been battling migraines since he was a teenager.

"A really bad, throbbing headache, lot of times behind my eyes... sometimes they are moderate, sometimes severe," Brown said. "Between work, house stuff and the kids, life is busy. So if you have a migraine, you are out of commission."

With three or four attacks a month, the 49-year-old relies on oral migraine medications, which can take time to work. But then his doctor told him about an experimental patch that could provide relief quicker.

"A medication taken in tablet form doesn't really get absorbed well enough or rapidly enough to provide effective headache relief," said Dr. Egilius Spierings of Tufts Medical Center.

Spierings showed us how the patch from Zosano Pharma Works. The system uses tiny needles coated with medication to deliver a migraine drug right into the bloodstream.

"Once the patch is applied to the skin, these microneedles will penetrate the skin, generally not even deep enough to hit the nerve, so it's not a painful procedure. But deep enough to bring the medication into the circulation," Spierings said.

Brown has been using the patch for six months. He says it's providing relief in just 20 to 45 minutes and he doesn't feel as sluggish.

"Makes a huge difference because then you can get back to your day whatever you are doing," he said.

So far, researchers say patients are tolerating the patch system well and no serious side effects have been reported. Currently, about 250 patients are enrolled in the study testing the new patch system.