Because of SAHPRA regulations, the manufacturers of cluster headache medication Imigran are currently unable to distribute the drug locally, leaving patients who suffer from the dreaded “suicide headache” in the lurch.

Cluster headaches are one of the most extreme forms of pain known to medicine.

There is a tragedy occurring in South Africa at present, caused by unfortunate red tape of the South African Health Regulatory Products Authority, under the Department of Health.

It concerns sufferers of the most severe pain known to mankind – cluster headaches.

Cluster headache is also known as “suicide headache”, for good reason, because many cluster sufferers have chosen to end their lives rather than live with the inescapable pain. An injected drug called Imigran is the most effective way of stopping these cluster headache attacks and sufferers depend on it to get through their cycles. Research done in the USA showed that in 2013, 10 000 cluster headache sufferers attempted suicide.

Imigran injections have been available in South Africa for many years, but they are now being manufactured in a different factory. South African regulations, designed to prevent sub-standard drugs from being imported, require the importers to reapply to import a drug if the manufacturing plant is changed, even if the same company supplies the drug.

This means that until permission is granted to import Imigran injections again, cluster headache sufferers will be deprived of their best source of pain relief.

Some cluster headache sufferers can abort an attack by breathing pure oxygen, but this doesn’t help everyone. Although Imigran injections are used to stop cluster headache attacks after they start, it cannot be used to prevent the attacks from occurring. There is however a method of preventing the attacks that is effective in most cluster headache sufferers.

Dr Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s world-renowned headache expert, and founder of The Headache Clinic, has developed a surgical procedure that permanently prevents cluster headache in most sufferers. The surgery is safe and is carried out under sedation in a day facility. The patient does not have to stay in hospital after the procedure. Dr Shevel is at pains to point out that it is not brain surgery, as the brain is not where the pain comes from.

Patients come to South Africa from all over the world for the surgery, as there is no other facility in the world that is able to offer relief to sufferers with such positive long term results. For more information go to www.theheadacheclinic.net or contact info@theheadacheclinic.net or call 0114840933.