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Headache. 2000 Feb;40(2):119-28.

A comparative trial of zolmitriptan and sumatriptan for the acute oral treatment of migraine.

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University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey, Headache Center, Moorestown, NJ 08057, USA.



This randomized, double-blind, parallel group multicenter study compared response rates and tolerability of zolmitriptan with sumatriptan in the acute treatment of migraine.


A sample consisting of 1445 outpatients with an established diagnosis of migraine was randomized to zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg or 5 mg, or sumatriptan, 25 mg or 50 mg. Patients took 1 tablet for moderate/severe migraine and a second identical tablet, if necessary, for recurrent headache of moderate/severe intensity 4 to 24 hours after the initial dose. Up to six attacks were treated during a 6-month period. The primary outcome measure was headache response 2 hours after the initial dose. Secondary end points included 1-hour and 4-hour headache response and pain relief over 24 hours.


A headache response at 2 hours was noted in 67.1% of patients taking zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg, and 64.8% of those taking zolmitriptan, 5 mg, versus 59.6% of patients taking sumatriptan, 25 mg, and 63.8% of those taking sumatriptan, 50 mg. At 2 and 4 hours, the differences between zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg, and sumatriptan, 25 mg, were statistically significant (odds ratio=1.49 and 1.67, respectively; both P<.001). Statistically significant differences between zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg, and sumatriptan, 50 mg, were seen at 2 and 4 hours post dose (odds ratio=1.21 and 1.23, respectively; both P<.05). At 1 hour post dose, the headache response rate for zolmitriptan, 2. 5 mg, was numerically higher than response rates for sumatriptan, 25 mg and 50mg (odds ratio=1.16, odds ratio=1.06, though they failed to reach statistical significance; P=.061, P=.461 respectively). Differences between zolmitriptan, 5 mg, and sumatriptan, 25 mg, were statistically significant at 1, 2, and 4 hours (odds ratio=1.43, 1. 46, and 1.78, respectively; all P<.001) and at 1 and 4 hours versus sumatriptan, 50 mg (odds ratio=1.28, P=.002; odds ratio=1.29, P=.012, respectively). Although not statistically significant at 2 hours, more patients responded to zolmitriptan, 5 mg, than to sumatriptan, 50 mg (odds ratio=1.16, P=.064). Patients receiving zolmitriptan, 2. 5 mg or 5 mg, achieved more pain relief over 24 hours than patients receiving sumatriptan, 25 mg (odds ratio=1.47, and 1.54 respectively, both P<.001) or sumatriptan, 50 mg (odds ratio=1.17, P=.021; odds ratio=1.22, P=.005, respectively). All treatments were well tolerated.


Zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg and 5 mg, was at least as effective as sumatriptan, 25 mg or 50 mg, for all parameters studied. Zolmitriptan, 2.5 mg, was significantly more effective than sumatriptan, 50 mg, in terms of headache response at 2 and 4 hours. Patients taking zolmitriptan were significantly more likely to have pain relief over 24 hours than those taking sumatriptan.

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