Pharmacotherapy for acute migraines in children and adolescents

P. Barbanti, L. Grazzi, G. Egeo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Migraine is increasingly recognized as an extremely burdensome and disabling disorder in both children and adolescents. A proper treatment plan is needed to improve the quality of life of both children and families as well as to minimize the risk of disease progression. Areas covered: This review focuses on the current pharmacotherapy for acute migraine in pediatric populations, taking into account specific considerations for those drugs tested in randomized, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs). Expert opinion: A large number of RCTs have documented the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of different compounds. Triptans appears more effective than placebo but results are variable and inconsistent. Almotriptan and rizatriptan are effective as oral formulations, as well as sumatriptan and zolmitriptan as both oral and nasal spray formulations. Adding non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reinforces triptan’s effectiveness. Furthermore, small RCTs have documented both the efficacy of ibuprofen and the ineffectiveness of acetaminophen. Naproxen, ketoprofen, diclofenac, and indomethacin–NSAIDs effective in acute migraines in adults–should be tested also in pediatric subjects. Furthermore, the authors suggest that dopamine receptor antagonists should be considered in cases of severe migraines. Lastly, better designed RCTs are needed to fine-tune current therapeutic resources.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalExpert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jan 1 2018


  • acute migraine
  • adolescents
  • children
  • NSAIDs
  • Pediatric migraine
  • pharmacotherapy
  • triptans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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