Sumatriptan and Naproxen Sodium for the Acute Treatment of Migraine


  • Timothy R. Smith MD,

  • Abraham Sunshine MD,

  • Stuart R. Stark MD,

  • Diane E. Littlefield RN, MSN,

  • Susan E. Spruill MS,

  • W. James Alexander MD, MPH

  • From the Mercy Health Research/Ryan Headache Center, Chesterfield, MO (Dr. Smith); Analgesic Development, Ltd., New York, NY (Dr. Sunshine); Innovative Clinical Research Center, Alexandria, VA (Dr. Stark); and Pozen, Inc, Chapel Hill, NC (Drs. Littlefield, Spruill, and Alexander).

Address all correspondence to Dr. Timothy R. Smith, Mercy Health Research/Ryan Headache Center, 1585 Woodlake Drive, Suite 200, Chesterfield, MO 63017.


Objective.—To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of treatment with a combination of sumatriptan 50 mg (encapsulated) and naproxen sodium 500 mg administered concurrently in the acute treatment of migraine.

Background.—The pathogenesis of migraine involves multiple peripheral and central neural mechanisms that individually have been successful targets for acute (abortive) and preventive treatment. This suggests that multimechanism therapy, which acts on multiple target sites, may confer improved efficacy and symptom relief for patients with migraine.

Design and Methods.—This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, four-arm study. Participants (n = 972) treated a single moderate or severe migraine attack with placebo, naproxen sodium 500 mg, sumatriptan 50 mg, or a combination of sumatriptan 50 mg and naproxen sodium 500 mg. In the latter two treatment arms, the sumatriptan tablets were encapsulated in order to achieve blinding of the study.

Results.—In the sumatriptan plus naproxen sodium group, 46% of subjects achieved 24-hour pain relief response (primary endpoint), which was significantly more effective than sumatriptan alone (29%), naproxen sodium alone (25%), or placebo (17%) (P < .001). Two-hour headache response also significantly favored the sumatriptan 50 mg plus naproxen sodium 500 mg therapy (65%) versus sumatriptan (49%), naproxen sodium (46%), or placebo (27%) (P < .001). A similar pattern of between-group differences was observed for 2-hour pain-free response and sustained pain-free response (P < .001). The incidence of headache recurrence up to 24 hours after treatment was lowest in the sumatriptan plus naproxen sodium group (29%) versus sumatriptan alone (41%; P = .048), versus naproxen sodium alone (47%; P= .0035), and versus placebo (38%; P= .08). The incidences of the associated symptoms of migraine were significantly lower at 2 hours following sumatriptan 50 mg plus naproxen sodium 500 mg treatment versus placebo (P < .001). The frequencies and types of adverse events reported did not differ between treatment groups, with dizziness and somnolence being the most common.

Conclusions.—This is among the first prospective studies to demonstrate that multimechanism acute therapy for migraine, combining a triptan and an analgesic, is well tolerated and offers improved clinical benefits over monotherapy with these selected standard antimigraine treatments. Specifically, sumatriptan 50 mg (encapsulated) and naproxen sodium 500 mg resulted in significantly superior pain relief as compared to monotherapy with either sumatriptan 50 mg (encapsulated) or naproxen sodium 500 mg for the acute treatment of migraine. Because encapsulation of the sumatriptan for blinding purposes may have altered its pharmacokinetic profile and thereby decreased the efficacy responses, additional studies are warranted that do not involve encapsulation of the active treatments and assess the true onset of action of multimechanism therapy in migraine. This study did show that the combination of sumatriptan and naproxen sodium was well tolerated and that there was no significant increase in the incidence of adverse events compared to monotherapy.