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Keywords:

  • migraine headache pain;
  • oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate;
  • oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate;
  • opioid;
  • outpatient

Background.—Migraine headache pain that does not respond to traditional antimigraine medications frequently requires treatment in the emergency department (ED) with parenteral opioids. Rapid onset of pain relief in an outpatient setting for migraine headache is the primary objective of patients and clinicians. Oral transmucosal fentanyl citrate (OTFC®; ACTIQ®) is a novel opioid product designed to deliver rapid analgesia to patients who experience breakthrough pain (BTP).

Objective.—To evaluate the effectiveness, tolerability, and patient satisfaction with OTFC for the outpatient treatment of acute, refractory migraine headache pain.

Patients and Methods.—Twenty patients with recurrent acute, refractory migraine headaches who had been referred to this headache clinic are reported in this case series. All patients had a history of tolerating parenteral opioids in the ED when experiencing refractory migraine pain and had been treated with outpatient opioid therapies in attempts to manage their migraine pain. Patients were prescribed OTFC (400 μg) as rescue treatment for moderate or severe migraine headache pain as outpatients. Patients were instructed to self-administer OTFC at home and complete a diary recording: pain intensity (11-point scale; 10 = worst pain imaginable to 0 = no pain) before and 15, 30, 60, and 120 minutes after OTFC; satisfaction with the effectiveness of OTFC (selecting 1 of 7 categories ranging from “very dissatisfied” through “very satisfied”) rated at 120 minutes; and adverse events.

Results.—Eighteen patients (13 female) experienced a migraine and self-administered OTFC. OTFC successfully treated migraine episodes in all 18 outpatients; no patient went to an ED. OTFC rapidly reduced pain intensity, with significant improvement at 15 minutes that was sustained and provided progressively more pain relief at 30, 60, and 120 minutes (all P < .01). Mean (SEM) pain intensity significantly declined from 8.83 (0.35) pretreatment to 2.28 (0.67) at 120 minutes, an average reduction of 75% (P < .01). Patients' satisfaction ratings with OTFC were overwhelmingly positive, with 94% being satisfied and more than half (56%) being “very satisfied.” Three (17%) patients experienced nausea, two (11%) somnolence, and one (6%) each itching, vomiting, and dry mouth. All adverse events were mild or moderate in severity.

Conclusions.—OTFC rapidly and significantly relieved acute, refractory migraine pain in outpatients, prevented the need for an ED visit, and was associated with high patient satisfaction ratings. The rapid onset of migraine headache pain relief in this case series is consistent with the analgesic effect reported with the use of OTFC in patients with BTP. OTFC was well tolerated in these patients who had a history of tolerating parenteral opioids in the ED when experiencing refractory migraine pain and had been treated with outpatient opioid therapies in attempts to manage their migraine pain. OTFC may be effective for outpatient treatment of acute, refractory migraine headache pain. Further controlled studies are warranted.