A new "combination" pill that combines two commonly used drugs for migraine pain provides faster and longer-lasting relief than using either medication alone.
So concludes new research of the experimental pill that combines sumatriptan (Imitrex) and naproxen sodium (Aleve).
Scientists say the new combo medication brought relief within 2 hours in 65% of study volunteers. About 55% reported pain relief from taking only sumatriptan and 44% from taking naproxen alone.
The FDA is currently considering approval of the combo drug, which would be sold under the brand name Trexima.
Why the better results from both drugs in one pill? "It really targets more of what's happening in the brain during migraine," explains study lead Dr. Jan Lewis Brandes, a neurologist at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. "Sumatriptan works to constrict the blood vessels and interrupt pain, while naproxen works on the inflammatory process."
Although medications known as triptans—which include sumatriptan—have improved migraine management, some people still don't get relief, say experts. The new pill was developed because many headache experts already recommend a combination of medications to combat migraine pain.
But when you combine naproxen with sumatriptan, "it not only tends to help it be more effective," notes Dr. Wade Cooper, director of the St. John's Health Chronic Headache and Migraine Institute in Michigan, it may help Imitrex work faster."
For this study, 3,000 migraine sufferers between ages 18 and 65 were recruited at 118 clinics across the US. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups—the combination therapy a single pill containing 85 milligrams sumatriptan and 500 milligrams naproxen sodium); 500 milligrams naproxen sodium alone; 85 milligrams sumatriptan alone; or a placebo.
They were told to take the medication when their migraine pain was moderate to severe in intensity
More people reported short-term relief from headache pain and lessened sensitivity to lights and sounds on the combination therapy than on either drug alone or for the placebo. At 24 hours, results were similar, with more people on the combination therapy reporting sustained headache relief.
Because the combination drug would only be used on an as-needed basis, Lewis Brandes said she's not overly concerned that the medication would cause any of the gastrointestinal side effects, such as stomach bleeding, that can occur with long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen.
Almost 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, according to the National Headache Foundation. Migraines may cause headache pain -often just on one side of the head, visual disturbances, sensitivity to light, and nausea and vomiting. Migraines may last hours or even days.
Migraines Can Trigger Depression
Women who get frequent headaches, particularly migraines, are four times more likely to suffer from major depression than those who only get them occasionally. Chronic pain from headaches can trigger depression and depression may intensify the pain.