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Keywords:

  • eletriptan;
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs;
  • triptan;
  • migraine;
  • acute treatment;
  • headache

Background/Objective.—Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs continue to be one of the most widely used therapies for migraine, but their efficacy in treating moderate to severe migraine headache has not been well documented. In contrast, the efficacy of triptans in this group of patients is well documented, although no systematic research is available that evaluates the effectiveness of switching to a triptan in patients who respond poorly to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Methods.—One hundred thirteen patients who met International Headache Society criteria for migraine and who did not experience satisfactory response to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, received open-label treatment with a 40-mg dose of eletriptan for one migraine attack. Efficacy assessments were made at 1, 2, 4, and 24 hours postdose and consisted of headache and pain-free response rates, absence of associated symptoms, and functional response. Global ratings of treatment effectiveness and preference were obtained at 24 hours.

Results.—The pain-free response rate at 2 hours postdose was 25% and at 4 hours postdose, 55%; the headache response rate at 2 hours was 66% and at 4 hours, 87%. At 2 hours postdose, relief of baseline associated symptoms was achieved by 41% of patients with nausea compared to 82% of patients at 4 hours; for patients with phonophobia, 67% were relieved at 2 hours and 93% at 4 hours, and for patients with photophobia, 70% were relieved at 2 hours and 91% at 4 hours. Functional response was achieved by 70% of patients by 2 hours postdose. The high level of acute response was maintained over 24 hours, with only 24% of patients experiencing a headache recurrence and only 10% using rescue medication. At 24 hours postdose, 74% of patients rated eletriptan as preferable to any previous treatment for migraine. The most frequent reasons cited for this treatment preference were faster headache improvement (83%) and functional response (78%). Overall, eletriptan was well tolerated; most adverse events were transient and mild to moderate in severity. No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusion.—Results of this open-label trial found the 40-mg dose of eletriptan to have a high degree of efficacy and tolerability among patients who responded poorly to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.