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CNS Drugs. 2012 May 1;26(5):375-82. doi: 10.2165/11630590-000000000-00000.

Taking the negative view of current migraine treatments: the unmet needs.

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  • 1Danish Headache Center, Health Science Faculty, University of Copenhagen, Department of Neurology, Glostrup Hospital, Glostrup, Denmark.


Acute migraine treatment is given to abolish ongoing attacks, while prophylactic migraine treatment is given on a daily basis to prevent the occurrence of migraine attacks as far as possible. The majority of migraine patients do not use the specific acute anti-migraine drugs, the triptans. Thus, only 10% (Denmark) to 35% (France) of migraine patients use triptans. This is most likely due to relatively low efficacy. Thus, in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) pain freedom after 2 hours ranges from 12% (frovatriptan 2.5 mg) to 40% (rizatriptan 10 mg). For prophylactic treatment (propranolol, valproate, topiramate) a response (at least a 50% reduction in migraine frequency) is observed in 40-50%. In addition, prophylactic treatment is hampered by adverse events and withdrawals. There is a need for new acute anti-migraine drugs and targets are already available and there are more to come. It has been estimated that approximately 2% of the adult population need prophylactic treatment because of frequent migraine attacks. For prophylactic migraine drugs there is an even greater need for new drugs than for acute drug treatment.

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