Participants in a migraine medication study who cheated and took the drug earlier than suggested may have done migraine sufferers everywhere a big favor.
A new study shows the medication works best when taken at the first sign of pain, rather than waiting until pain is moderate to severe, as was the requirement of the original study.
Previous research on the use of drugs known as serotonin agonists for the treatment of migraine have required patients to take the drugs only when their pain reached moderate to severe levels. However, patients in one study on the drug sumatriptan violated this rule, taking the medication as soon as they felt a migraine coming on. Researchers analyzed their results separately, and noted treatment of mild pain may be a better strategy.
Investigators conducted two identical studies to see if using sumatriptan for mild pain had the desired effects. The first study involved 354 patients and the second involved 337 patients. Patients were randomized to receive either the active drug or a placebo. Results showed significantly better pain control among those taking the active drug in either 50 milligram or 100 milligram doses. Fifty percent of those taking the lower dose and 57 percent taking the higher dose reported they were completely free from pain two hours later, compared to 29 percent of those taking the placebo. At four hours, 61 percent and 68 percent, respectively, were free from pain, compared to 30 percent for the placebo. Similar numbers were found when the researchers measured freedom from both pain and other migraine symptoms at two and four hours.