Sumatriptan for the Range of Headaches in Migraine Sufferers: Results of the Spectrum Study


  • Presented in part at the annual meetings of the American Academy of Neurology, Toronto, ON, Canada, April 17-24, 1999; the American Association for the Study of Headache, Boston, Mass, June 11-13, 1999; and the International Headache Congress, Barcelona, Spain, June 22-26, 1999.

Address all correspondence to Dr. Richard B. Lipton, 1200 High Ridge Road, Stamford, CT 06905.


Background.—Migraineurs experience a spectrum of headaches: migraine, migrainous, and episodic tension-type as defined by the International Headache Society (IHS).

Objective.—To evaluate the effectiveness of sumatriptan, 50-mg tablets, in treating the spectrum of headaches in IHS-diagnosed migraineurs.

Design/Methods.—Migraineurs with severe disability (Headache Impact Questionnaire score 250 or greater) were enrolled in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. Patients treated up to 10 headaches with sumatriptan, 50 mg, or placebo (4:1). Headache features, recorded prior to treatment, were used to classify each headache using IHS criteria. Headache response (moderate or severe pain reduced to mild or no pain) and pain-free response were recorded at 2 and 4 hours postdose (primary endpoint). Because patients treated multiple attacks, statistical methods controlling for within-subject correlation were used.

Results.—Two hundred forty-nine migraineurs treated 1576 moderate or severe headaches: migraine (n = 1110), migrainous (n = 103), and tension-type (n = 363). Sumatriptan was superior to placebo for headache response 4 hours postdose (primary endpoint) across all headache types (migraine, 66% versus 48%; P<.001; migrainous, 71% versus 39%; P<.01; tension-type, 78% versus 50%, P<.001). Sumatriptan was also superior to placebo for pain-free response 4 hours postdose for migraine (41% versus 24%, P<.001) and tension-type headaches (56% versus 36%, P = .001). Sumatriptan provided superior pain-free response 2 hours postdose for migraine (18% versus 7%, P<.0001) and tension-type headache (28% versus 14%, P = .0005) compared with placebo.

Conclusion.—Sumatriptan, 50-mg tablets, are effective for the full spectrum of headaches experienced by patients with disabling migraine due to a sumatriptan-responsive mechanism.