In a new draft guidance, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended that using gammaCore in addition to standard care (sumatriptan, zolmitriptan and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 recommendation is made in NICE’s draft medtech guidance for public consultation, but 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.

The portable technology 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.

Meindert Boysen, director of the Centre for Health Technology Evaluation at NICE, explained that many people with the condition “don’t get enough pain relief with current treatment options, which are often used off-label and limited by side effects and contraindications. The committee heard that on average five people a year in the UK end their lives because they are no longer able to live with the pain of cluster headaches.i

“We’re pleased, therefore, to be able to recommend this innovative, simple to use treatment which has been shown to provide benefits for around a quarter of people who use it.

“And by decreasing the need for treatments to stop the symptoms of an acute attack of cluster headache, using gammaCore could be cost-saving for the NHS.”

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