Oral sumatriptan compared with placebo in the acute treatment of migraine

Giuseppe Nappi, Federigo Sicuteri, Margaret Byrne, Maurizio Roncolato, Oriana Zerbini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This multicentre, doubleblind, parallel-group study compared the efficacy, safety and tolerability of oral sumatriptan, given as a new film-coated tablet, with placebo in the acute treatment of migraine. Patients were randomised unequally (1:2) to receive placebo or sumatriptan. Eighty-eight patients received placebo (plus an optional dose 2 h later if the headache persisted plus a further optional dose for recurrence within 24 h) and 162 patients received sumatriptan 100 mg (plus an optional 100 mg dose at 2 h and an optional 100 mg dose within 24 h). Sumatriptan was significantly more effective than placebo at relieving headache (defined as reduction in severity from severe or moderate pain to mild or no pain) at 2 h (51% versus 31%, P = 0.003) and 4 h (71% versus 35%, P <0.001). Fewer sumatriptan-treated patients required a second dose compared with placebo-treated patients (49% versus 74%, P <0.001). More sumatriptan-treated patients were completely pain free compared with placebo-treated patients at both 2 h (24% versus 12%) and 4 h (48% versus 18). Patients receiving sumatriptan reported earlier onset of headache relief than patients receiving placebo. Headache relief in sumatriptan-treated patients was similar, irrespective of the type of migraine (with or without aura) or the time of treatment ≤ 4 h or > 4 h after onset of migraine). Sumatriptan was more effective than placebo at relieving nausea, vomiting and photophobia/phonophobia. Few patients were evaluable for treatment of headache recurrence, and statistical analysis was not possible. More sumatriptan-treated patients than placebo-treated patients reported adverse events (29% versus 16%) but the difference was not significant at the 5% level. Most of these events were mild to moderate in severity, of short duration and resolved without treatment. Sumatriptan had no clinically significant effect on blood pressure, heart rate, electrocardiogram or laboratory test results. It is concluded that oral sumatriptan 100 mg, given as a film-coated tablet, provides an effective and well-tolerated acute treatment for migraine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-144
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1994


  • Migraine Safety
  • Sumatriptan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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