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Clin Ther. 2006 Jun;28(6):872-80.

Time to pain freedom and onset of pain relief with rizatriptan 10 mg and prescription usual-care oral medications in the acute treatment of migraine headaches: a multicenter, prospective, open-label, two-attack, crossover study.

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  • 1Outcomes Research and Management, Merck & Co., Inc., West Point, Pennsylvania 19486, USA.



Patients and physicians consider rapid onset of pain relief and pain freedom among the most important attributes of migraine therapy.


This study compared the effectiveness of rizatriptan 10 mg and usual-care oral migraine medications in everyday clinical practice settings.


This was a multicenter, prospective, open-label study. Adult patients treated 2 sequential migraine attacks with rizatriptan 10 mg and a usual-care prescription migraine medication in a crossover manner. Patients chose which medication to take first. They recorded the treatment outcomes using a stopwatch and a treatment diary. End points included time to pain freedom (length of time from dosing to no pain) and time to onset of pain relief (mean time to onset of pain relief and proportion of patients reporting onset of pain relief at 30 minutes), satisfaction with treatment, and medication preference. Information on adverse events was collected through the normal post-marketing reporting mechanism. Comparisons were made using the paired t test and McNemar test for continuous and categorical variables, respectively. A mixed model, accounting for multiple observations per patient, was fitted for the time to pain freedom, controlling for age, sex, treatment period, medication, and headache severity.


Of 2346 enrolled patients, 1489 treated 2 migraines in a crossover manner and were included in the analysis (86.8% women, 13.2% men; mean age, 41.7 years). A majority of patients (80.6%) treated both migraines with oral triptans. The most commonly used nontriptans were NSAIDs (5.4%), butalbital-containing combinations (4.3%), and isometheptene (3.4%). Over-the-counter medications were used by 22.3% of patients during rizatriptan-treated attacks and by 28.9% of patients during attacks treated with usual-care medications. The mean time to pain freedom was significantly shorter when an attack was treated with rizatriptan compared with usual-care medications (222 vs 298 minutes, respectively; P<0.001), and the onset of pain relief was significantly more rapid (85 vs 107 minutes; P=0.003), with significant differences noted as early as 15 minutes after dosing (P<0.001). The findings remained similar after adjustment for potential confounding factors. No significant sequence effect was detected. Significantly more patients reported being very satisfied or satisfied with rizatriptan compared with usual-care medications (65.4% vs 57.7%; P<0.001) and preferred rizatriptan (58.0% vs 42.0%; P<0.001). One female patient reported having hives and itchy skin the day after taking rizatriptan; the symptoms subsided after treatment with methylprednisolone.


In this selected population, treatment of a migraine attack with rizatriptan 10 mg was associated with a faster time to pain freedom and onset of pain relief compared with treatment with usual-care oral migraine medications. Patients reported greater satisfaction with and preference for rizatriptan.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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