Effervescent aspirin, which dissolves in water, is as effective as the drugs sumatriptan or ibuprofen for the treatment of migraine attacks, a study in the journal Cephalalgia suggests.
Aspirin “in combination with metoclopramide has been frequently used in clinical trials in the…treatment of migraine attacks,” Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener, of University Essen, Germany, and colleagues write. Recently, effervescent aspirin without metoclopramide has been shown to be more effective than inactive “placebo” pills against migraines.
In the present study, the researchers compared effervescent aspirin against sumatriptan, a standard migraine drug most commonly sold as Imitrex in the US, and ibuprofen, the active agent in drugs like Motrin or Advil.
A total of 312 patients from 16 centers in Germany, Italy, and Spain were included in the study. Patients were given either effervescent aspirin, or sumatriptan, or ibuprofen, or placebo to treat a migraine attack.
Overall, 53 percent of those treated with aspirin had a reduction in headache severity, compared with 60 percent of ibuprofen-treated patients and 56 percent of sumatriptan-treated patients. In contrast, just 31 percent of placebo-treated patients experienced a drop in severity.
The percentage of patients who were pain-free after 2 hours was 27 percent in the aspirin group, 33 percent in the ibuprofen group, 37 percent in the sumatriptan group, and 12.6 percent in the placebo group.
No significant differences were observed between the three active drugs in terms of accompanying symptoms.
Drug-related side effects “were reported in 4.1 percent of the patients on aspirin and 4.5 percent of the patients on placebo treatment,” Diener’s group reports. The rate of adverse events for ibuprofen and sumatriptan groups was also similar to placebo.
The researchers conclude that effervescent aspirin can achieve comparable results to sumatriptan and ibuprofen in the “acute treatment of migraine attacks and offers high efficacy and good tolerability.”
SOURCE: Cephalalgia, November 2004.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Sebastian Scheller, MD, ScD