Dr. Jim Martinez, who practiced psychiatry for several years before joining Eli Lilly and Company in 2006, works with a team to develop new treatments for patients who suffer from cluster headache, which remains an area of high unmet need. Often mistaken for migraine, cluster headache is a debilitating neurologic disease characterized by attacks of excruciating pain, usually behind the eye, and lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to three hours. These attacks can occur from once every other day to eight times a day during a cluster period, leaving patients restless and in severe pain until the attack passes.
“Unlike migraine, during which a person may retreat to their bed or a quiet environment, due to the extreme sensitivity to light and sound, people experiencing a cluster headache attack are often restless and may pace or rock back and forth,” says Dr. Martinez. “They can be highly agitated, but it’s the result of the cluster headache attack, which many clinicians describe as one of the most painful medical conditions to exist.”
Cluster headache is challenging to diagnose because of limited awareness and, for some people, may take many years to receive an accurate diagnosis.