Within-Patient Early Versus Delayed Treatment of Migraine Attacks With Almotriptan: The Sooner the Better


Address all correspondence to Dr. Julio Pascual, Service of Neurology, University Hospital Marqués de Valdecilla, 39008 Santander, Spain.


Background.—Migraine sufferers typically have been instructed to delay triptan therapy until headache intensity is at least moderate. Recent data suggest that earlier use of triptans may be more beneficial.

Objective.—To address the potential “within-patient” benefit of intervention with almotriptan 12.5 mg for migraine headache of mild intensity.

Methods.—We performed a post hoc analysis of a subgroup of patients from a large, open-label, long-term clinical trial wherein 762 migraineurs used almotriptan 12.5 mg for headache attacks of any severity. Specifically, we evaluated the efficacy and safety of treatment in those patients who had treated at least 3 “mild” attacks and 3 “moderate/severe” attacks, examining rates of pain-free status, use of rescue medication, early recurrence, and adverse events for the first 3 mild and the first 3 moderate/severe attacks treated.

Results.—There were 118 migraineurs and 708 attacks available for analysis. At 1 hour following treatment, pain-free status was achieved in 47% of mild attacks versus 14% of moderate/severe attacks (P<.001); incidences at 2 hours were 84% of mild attacks and 53% of moderate/severe attacks (P<.001). The chance of achieving pain-free status at 1 hour in at least 2 of 3 treated attacks was 45% for mild attacks and 9% for moderate/severe attacks; at 2 hours the percentages were 88% for mild attacks and 56% for moderate/severe attacks. Rescue medication was required in 8% of mild attacks and in 13% of moderate/severe attacks (P<.01). The incidence of early recurrence was 28% for mild attacks and 33% for moderate/severe attacks (P<.01). There was no difference in the incidence of adverse events for mild versus moderate/severe attacks (6% versus 7%).

Conclusion.—These results support early intervention with oral triptan therapy. When used for mild intensity head pain, almotriptan 12.5 mg produced a significantly higher incidence of pain-free status at 1 and 2 hours and lower incidences of early headache recurrence or need for rescue medication.