Tripstar: A Comprehensive Patient-Based Approach to Compare Triptans


Address all correspondence to Dr. Michel Ferrari, Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Centre, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Several second-generation triptans have been introduced that differ in their pharmacologic profiles relative to each other and to sumatriptan. As therapeutic options multiply, clinicians must be able to distinguish among these compounds. Recently, a meta-analysis was conducted on data from 53 double-blind, randomized, placebo- or active-controlled trials involving over 24 000 patients receiving oral triptans. Results indicated that almotriptan 12.5 mg, rizatriptan 10 mg, and eletriptan 80 mg are generally superior to sumatriptan 100 mg based on individual treatment attributes, such as pain relief, sustained pain freedom, consistency of response, and tolerability. Meta-analyses are limited, however, as the analysis can only be performed for individual end points, whereas patients and prescribers balance a variety of treatment attributes when assessing drug acceptability. A flexible overall scoring system (“Tripstar”) is proposed that compares triptans to a hypothetical “ideal” using meta-analysis data combined with ratings of the relative importance of clinically relevant treatment criteria. An informal test of the Tripstar model indicated that sumatriptan is most similar to a hypothetical ideal for both mild and severe migraine, primarily due to its high worldwide clinical exposure. However, after exclusion of worldwide exposure as a contributing factor, almotriptan 12.5 mg is most similar to the ideal, principally because of its good tolerability. Further tests of the Tripstar model are planned that will gauge the relative importance of a broader range of attributes.