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Arch Fam Med. 1998 May-Jun;7(3):234-40.

Multiple-attack efficacy and tolerability of sumatriptan nasal spray in the treatment of migraine.

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Diamond Headache Clinic, Chicago, Ill 60614, USA.



Sumatriptan hemisulfate nasal spray may provide a useful therapeutic option for patients with migraine who find injectable medications inconvenient or uncomfortable and for patients whose migraine-associated nausea and vomiting preclude the use of oral medication. This study was the first US trial to evaluate the effects of sumatriptan nasal spray administered for multiple migraine attacks.


Sumatriptan nasal spray (5, 10, or 20 mg) was administered via a 1-shot nasal applicator into either nostril for up to 3 migraine attacks occurring over 6 months in a randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled study.


Fifty-six outpatient clinical centers in the United States.


A total of 1086 men and women diagnosed with migraine with or without aura per International Headache Society criteria.


Percentage of patients with headache relief (moderate or severe predose pain reduced to mild or none); percentage of patients with no or mild (vs moderate or severe) clinical disability; percentage of patients with nausea, vomiting, photophobia, or phonophobia; adverse events; clinical laboratory test results.


Across attacks, headache relief in the 20-, 10-, and 5-mg drug and placebo groups was experienced 120 minutes postdose by 60%, 54%, 44%, and 32% of patients, respectively (P<.05 for each sumatriptan nasal spray group vs placebo, for the 10-mg vs 5-mg drug group, and for the 20-mg vs 5-mg drug group). Two thirds of the 20-mg patients treating 3 attacks experienced relief at 2 hours postdose for at least 2 of 3 attacks. Clinical disability scores at 120 minutes in the 20-, 10-, and 5-mg drug and placebo groups reflected no or mild impairment in 70%, 67%, 57%, and 50% of patients, respectively (P<.05 for the 10- or 20-mg drug group vs placebo group, and for the 20-mg vs 5- mg drug group). Similar efficacy rates were observed for nausea, photophobia, and phonophobia. For all parameters, individual-attack efficacy rates did not differ from across-attack rates. The incidence of adverse events was not dose related. The most frequently reported adverse event in the active treatment groups was taste disturbance (bad, bitter, or unpleasant).


Sumatriptan hemisulfate nasal spray (5, 10, or 20 mg) is effective and well tolerated in the treatment of multiple migraine attacks. The 20-mg dose was associated with the highest efficacy rates across the greatest number of parameters.

Comment in

  • ACP J Club. 1997 Jan-Feb;130-1:12.
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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