NICE approves cluster headaches device

A handheld device that delivers a small electric current has been recommended in draft guidance by NICE for the prevention and treatment of cluster headaches.

Cluster headaches are a rare but painful type of headache affecting around 100,000 people in the UK. The recommendation made in NICE’s draft medtech guidance highlights that using gammaCore in addition to standard care (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan and oxygen) could save the NHS £450 per patient in the first year compared to standard care alone.

The guidance says that because gammaCore is not effective in all patients with cluster headache, it should only be used following a three-month trial period where it has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms.

Clinical experts suggest that around 25 per cent of people in the UK with cluster headache – around 25,000 – are likely to respond to treatment with gammaCore.

The device aims to modify pain signals by stimulating the vagus nerve through the skin of the neck and can be used to stop pain when the person feels a cluster headache beginning or daily to help prevent cluster headaches. The device is small and portable and, after brief training, is designed to be used anywhere that is convenient.

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