Objective.—To determine whether time-based early treatment, independent of pain intensity, is superior to a pain intensity-based treatment, where patients are asked to treat at least moderate intensity headaches, resulting in a reduction of overall migraine headache duration.
Background.—Retrospective and prospective trials have reported improved outcomes when triptans were used early or to treat mild migraine headache pain. However, tolerability as well as efficacy may be 2 of several key issues that have prevented this new treatment paradigm from becoming universally accepted.
Methods.—In this multicenter, open-label, cluster-randomized study, patients with IHS-defined migraine were instructed to treat 2 sequential migraine headaches with almotriptan 12.5 mg using either Early Treatment (ET, ie, treat at earliest onset of headache pain, within 1 hour) or Standard Treatment (ST, ie, treat when headache pain intensity is moderate or severe). The novel trial design uses total migraine headache pain duration as the primary endpoint.
Results.—Results are presented for the first headache and include an ITT population of 757 ET and 693 ST patients. Median headache duration (time from onset of headache pain until no pain) was significantly shorter in ET patients compared to ST patients (3.18 vs 5.53 hours, P < .001). An analysis of the ET subgroup treating headache pain within 1 hour of onset revealed pain intensity, ie, treating mild or moderate versus severe pain, was significantly correlated with treatment outcomes defined by total headache duration, 2-hour pain free, sustained pain free, and use of rescue medication. Multivariate analyses comparing ST subgroups that treated within 1 hour versus greater than 1 hour after headache onset, demonstrate that both pain intensity, ie, treating moderate versus severe headache pain, and treating early versus late, were significantly correlated with total headache duration, 2-hour pain free, sustained pain free, and use of rescue medication. The overall incidence of adverse events was low; nausea and dizziness were the only adverse events with an incidence ≥1% in either treatment group (nausea: 2.5% and 1.7% and dizziness 1.1% and 0.7%, in the ET and ST groups, respectively).
Conclusion.—Total headache duration was significantly shorter in the early treatment group compared to the standard treatment group. Considering time to treatment within a relatively early range of 1 hour or less, efficacy results when treating mild versus moderate pain were similar and both were associated with better outcomes than treatment of severe pain. When considering the prognostic variables of time to treatment and headache pain intensity (limited to moderate vs severe), both were independent predictors, with time to treatment a better predictor of headache duration and rescue medication use, and pain intensity a better predictor of 2-hour pain free and sustained pain free.