Efficacy and Tolerability of Subcutaneous Sumatriptan for Acute Migraine: A Comparison Between Ethnic Groups


Address all correspondence to Dr. Petra Burke-Ramirez, Department of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine, Box 365067, San Juan, PR 00936-5067.


Objective.—To evaluate efficacy and tolerability of subcutaneous sumatriptan 6 mg versus placebo for acute migraine between ethnic groups.

Background.—Patients in previous sumatriptan studies have been predominantly Caucasian and the effects of sumatriptan between different ethnic groups are unknown.

Methods.—This was a multicenter, 3-phase, 12-attack study. Phases I and III (inclinic) were randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover designs. Phase II (outpatient) was a single-blind design. Sumatriptan was compared to placebo across 2 groups (non-Caucasian and Caucasian) and individual ethnic subgroups (black, Hispanic, and others). Headache response, pain-free response, associated symptoms, and clinical disability were assessed. Tolerability assessments included the incidence of adverse events, physical examinations, vital signs, electrocardiograms, and clinical laboratory data.

Results.—Two hundred patients treated at least one migraine attack (150 non-Caucasians: 46 blacks, 68 Hispanics, 36 others). Two hours postdose, significantly more inclinic sumatriptan-treated patients reported headache response (non-Caucasians, 81% versus 37% placebo; Caucasians, 87% versus 19% placebo; P<.001) and mild or no clinical disability, compared with placebo (non-Caucasians, 87% versus 50% placebo; Caucasians, 90% versus 38% placebo; P<.001). Blacks (80%), Hispanics (83%), and others (74%) reported similar patterns of headache response at 2 hours. Similar results were reported during the outpatient phase. The incidence of adverse events following sumatriptan during the inclinic phase was similar between ethnic groups (non-Caucasian, 75%; Caucasian, 79%) and higher than placebo (non-Caucasian, 51%; Caucasian, 31%). Overall, adverse events in the outpatient phase of the study were lower than in the inclinic phase.

Conclusion.—Sumatriptan injection is effective and well tolerated in non-Caucasians and Caucasians for the treatment of acute migraine attacks. Only minor differences in efficacy or tolerability were observed between blacks, Hispanics, and others.