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Frequent headaches in the changing lifestyle are a very common condition. Stress related to work has increased significantly in recent times. People have therefore resorted to self-medicate with a known analgesic brand. Aspirin is the most popular brand available for headache globally. Developed for headache and pain, Aspirin have extended indications now for heart attack and stroke. Moreover, it is estimated that nearly 700 to 1000 clinical trials are conducted every year for aspirin to find its additional usage.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that the prevalence of headache among adults is about 50%. Besides, migraine is the third most prevalent disease globally with nearly one billion population being affected (Migraine Research Foundation). Furthermore, more than 4 million people experience chronic daily migraine – with at least 15 migraine days per month. Medication overuse is the most common reason of episodic migraine turning into chronic. And most of the migraine sufferers do not seek medical help for their pain. It could get easy if one does not need to pop a pill every time he/she gets a headache. Scientists have found out an innovative method of treating migraine/chronic headaches using an implantable device.

Electronic Aspirin Technology

Doctors have long associated the chronic forms of headache with the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), a facial nerve bundle, but not yet found a treatment that works on the SPG long-term. The electronic aspirin technology blocks the SPG signals at the first sign of a headache. This technology is a patient-powered tool and is under investigation at Autonomic Technologies, Inc.

In this technology, the device needs to be implanted permanently in the upper gum on the side of head normally affected by headache. The lead tip of the device connects with the SPG bundle. When a patient senses a headache, he/she places a handheld remote controller on the cheek nearest the implant. The resulting signals will trigger a slight electrical charge and stimulate the SPG nerves. The stimulated SPCG nerves will block the pain-causing neurotransmitters. The impulse will be so minor that the patient may feel it a little bit, but not painful or distressed. The patient can turn the device on or off when required. The implant works only when the remote is brought near it.

Implanting his device requires a medical technologist. Studies of the technology showed that 68% of the people who suffered from chronic headaches reported improvement on using electronic aspirin. Moreover, the weekly average headaches reduced by 31% in these people and 75% among those who reported improvement in their quality of life.

Where is the potential?                                                         

Electronic aspirin technology can be the preferred option in migraine patients and those who get frequent headaches. Being an implantable it could restrict its demand in people who do not seek medical help for headache or migraine, as observed in the emerging countries. Therefore, the electronic aspirin device could generate demand in the U.S., Canada and European markets where implants are not a new technology. The Asian, Latin America and African regions are still coping up to generate demand for implantable technology. Being a permanent implant, the potential consumers would be the migraine and chronic headache patients who have to frequently take pills for treating it.

Key Developments

California, U.S. based company, Autonomic Technologies, Inc. (ATI) innovated the first-of-its-kind technology as an alternative to oral aspirin, for patients experiencing migraines, cluster headaches, and severe neuralgias. ATI is currently in the process of clinical investigation of Electronic Aspirin. As of October 2017, the company is also awaiting FDA approval for conducting clinical trials, and authorization from European regulatory bodies for application in Europe.

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