Millions of migraine sufferers have been offered fresh hope after researchers claimed that a treatment for the condition is as existing drugs but with fewer side effects.
In the journal Lancet, researchers have reported that they have found that drug telcagepant is as effective at treating the crippling pain associated with a migraine attack as more traditional medicines currently used by millions worldwide, but has fewer side effects.
Migraine is caused by an "oversensitive" brain, which reacts to triggers such as fatigue, hunger, stress or the weather with a throbbing, one-sided headache, often accompanied by nausea and visual disturbances. It affects three times more women than men.
In a randomised study of 1,380 people with moderate or severe migraine telcagepant was as effective as zolmitriptan, the most commonly used triptan, and was associated with fewer adverse effects, Dr Tony Ho of Merck Research Laboratories in Philadelphia said in the report.
The main advantage of telcagepant was reduced side effects. Triptans can cause a tight chest and throat, dizziness, numbness of skin and is thought to have a potential constricting effect on the blood vessels. As a result, patients with heart disease and high blood pressure are advised not to take it.
Telcagepant does not appear to have the same vasoconstricting (blood vessel narrowing) properties, but heart patients were excluded from the trial.