Zolmitriptan: A Review of its Use in Migraine

Spencer, C.M.; Gunasekara, N.S.; Hills, C.
August 1999
Drugs;Aug1999, Vol. 58 Issue 2, p347
Academic Journal
Zolmitriptan is a selective serotonin 5-HT receptor agonist (‘triptan’). Its efficacy and tolerability have been assessed in a number of randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trials in large numbers of adults with moderate to severe migraine attacks. Oral zolmitriptan 2.5 and 5mg has a rapid onset of action (significant headache relief is observed at 45 minutes) and efficacy is sustained in most patients who respond at 2 hours. The drug is significantly more effective than placebo as measured by a number of parameters including 2-hour headache response rates and pain-free response rates. Other symptoms of migraine, including nausea, photophobia and phonophobia are also alleviated with zolmitriptan. Zolmitriptan is effective in the treatment of migraine associated with menses and migraine with aura. There is some evidence to support the use of zolmitriptan in patients with migraine who have had a poor response to previous therapy. The efficacy of zolmitriptan appears to be maintained, with no tachyphylaxis, following repeated administration for multiple attacks of migraine over a prolonged period of time, with high headache response rates reported over all attacks. In comparison with placebo, the incidence of persistent migraine headache is reduced by zolmitriptan and recurrent migraine headache occurs less frequently with the active treatment. Zolmitriptan has also demonstrated efficacy in the treatment of persistent and/or recurrent migraine headache. For relief of migraine headache, zolmitriptan 5mg had similar efficacy to sumatriptan 100mg for a single attack, but generally was more effective than sumatriptan 25 and 50mg for multiple attacks, in single trials. The incidence of recurrent headache with zolmitriptan was similar to that with sumatriptan. Zolmitriptan is generally well tolerated with most adverse events being mild to moderate, transient and resolving without intervention or the need for treatment withdrawal. The most common adverse events with zolmitriptan therapy are asthenia, heaviness other than that of the chest or neck, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, somnolence, paraesthesia, warm sensation, tightness, vasodilation and chest pain. Conclusion: Zolmitriptan is effective across a wide range of migraine subtypes, maintains efficacy when used in the long term and is generally well tolerated. Further clinical experience is necessary to define the position of zolmitriptan among other currently or soon to be available selective 5-HT receptor agonists. However, on the basis of available data, zolmitriptan should emerge as a useful treatment option in the management of patients with moderate to severe migraine.


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