Needle-free injection of sumatriptan

Needle-free injection of sumatriptan (Imitrex) was tested for its ease of use and for its bioequivalence in a study led by Dr. Jan Brandes.  The new device that provides needle-free subcutaneous injections was easy to use and if injected into the thigh or abdomen (but not the upper arm) delivered the same amount of medicine as an injection with a needle.  Unfortunately, needle-free does not mean pain-free, so the injection still hurts.  This device, when it is approved by the FDA, may be useful for those patients who are afraid of needles.  Many migraine sufferers still do not know that injections of sumatriptan can be easily self-administered using a pen-like device that does contain a needle.  Many doctors do not offer this option because they do not think that patients will readily accept an injection or because they don’t realize how severe the migraines are.  I see many migraine sufferers who gladly take an injection over the tablet.  It is particularly effective for people who have severe nausea and vomiting with their migraine.  The speed of relief is another reason to take an injection – some patients wake up with a migraine and have to go to work or take care of their children and cannot wait for 1-2 hours before the tablet provides relief.  I have taken sumatriptan injection many times myself.  Usually the tablet works for me, but if before going to bed I have a headache from the wine I had with dinner, I will often opt for a shot.  The shot works within 10-15 minutes and allows me to fall asleep right after that, while a tablet may take an hour or longer.

  1. Ella says: 04/25/20105:42 pm

    THis is NOT psychological. When I used this needle free injection it felt the same way as if I was using the needle injection. To my suprise, I also had the same results. I was shocked, though, that it broke my skin. I’m not sure if this was how it was suppose to work, since it was a needle-free injection, but I was happy with the results anyway!
    With my insurance I pay the same for both needle and needle-free injections.

  2. Dr. Mauskop says: 11/21/200912:00 am

    The vial is cheaper, but I don’t know by how much. Do not prep the syringe ahead of time unless you expect a headache within a day, since once you draw up the medicine it loses sterility and the injection can cause an infection.

  3. CrazyCatLady says: 11/20/20098:25 pm

    Dr. Mauskop,
    I have seen the vial on the website for my mail order scripts. I have not gone to the doctor to get a seperate prescription for it yet. Eventually I will, but I am sure the insurance will be a nightmare as usual. I hope it’s cheaper. Do you have any idea of the price? As far as using the syringe do you think it would be practical to prep one ahead of time? I have done a TON of vial/syringe draws (fertility drugs) but never for migraine. If my husband is around during an attack, he could do it, but I can’t count on that.

  4. Dr. Mauskop says: 11/10/200911:56 pm

    Actually, sumatriptan is available in a vial and I offer it to my patients, particularly if they need less than the amount that is in the vial (4 or 6 mg) and also to reduce the pain of injections. Vials are also somewhat cheaper. The downside is that using a syringe to get the medicine out of the vial is a little more complicated for someones in the throes of a migraine and some of my patients prefer the autoinjector pen. The price of generic sumatriptan should continue to drop as there are more and more companies making it.

  5. CrazyCatLady says: 11/10/200910:46 pm

    Well, X, nobody deserves a migrane. That being said, I cannot fathom someone’s fear of a tiny needle being greater than the desire for relief.
    I happen to HATE the stat-dose pen. I would rather have the medication in a vial that I could draw up into an insulin needle then self inject.
    So this will be branded and generic won’t be available for what, 7 years? The difference according to my insurance program between Imitrex and generic sumatriptan was $73 vs $65 for the 2 dose pack.

  6. X says: 11/02/20092:12 pm


  7. X says: 11/02/20092:12 pm

    So basically, millions of dollars went into R and D for an essentially unnecessary product. A classic example of one aspect of what’s wrong with our health care culture. Getting a patient over a needle phobia could be much more affordably and efficiently accomplished with a few sessions of cognitive-behavior therapy. Anyone unwilling to do this in order to enable themselves to self-inject with a stat-does pen deserves the headache.

  8. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/30/20096:18 pm

    Yes, the benefit is purely psychological and it is likely that the insurers will recognize that and consider sumatriptan injection to be the generic equivalent of this product.

  9. X says: 10/30/20092:45 pm

    This sounds like exactly what a needle injection does. So the benefit is purely psychological? By the way, this could be potentially good news for patients whose insurance provider only covers branded medication when a generic alternative is not available. Generic sumatriptan injections do not work for me, and assuming this is as effective as the needle injection, I may be able to switch over and save a lot of money.

  10. Dr. Mauskop says: 10/30/20098:51 am

    A very thin jet of Imitrex solution comes out of the nozzle under strong pressure and penetrates the skin. It is going to a branded product, which means that it is going to be at least as expensive as the branded Imitrex injection.

  11. X says: 10/30/20091:09 am

    How is it injected if not by needle? And is this available for Imitrex brand only, or for the generic as well?

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