New Drug Studied as Migraine Prevention

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 18, 2004 | Go to article overview

New Drug Studied as Migraine Prevention


Byline: Natasha T. Metzler Medill News Service

An anti-seizure drug that shows promise in preventing migraine headaches might soon win approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Dr. Merle Diamond has given the drug, topiramate, to her patients for more than five years.

Patients who took 100 milligrams of topiramate a day had a significant decrease in the number, frequency and severity of migraine headaches, said Diamond, associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago and co-author of an article on the drug that appeared in the Feb. 25 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Patients given a higher dose experienced fewer and less frequent migraines but the severity was unchanged. Topiramate was not as effective at a lower dose.

Migraine treatments can be divided into two strategies, said Jill Burkiewicz, an assistant professor of pharmacy at Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy in Downers Grove.

The first type of therapy uses painkillers to stop a headache after it starts. The second uses daily doses of preventive medication, such as topiramate, to decrease the frequency of migraines.

"Generally, the preventive therapy is used for patients who have a lot of headaches," Burkiewicz said.

Topiramate has FDA approval for reducing the frequency of seizures in patients with epilepsy. Doctors can prescribe it "off- label" for migraine prevention, but without FDA approval, the drug company cannot market it for that use. …

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