Study: Triptans provide the best pain relief for migraines, but have more side effects than newer drugs

October 11 (UPI) – A class of drugs called triptans remains the most effective treatment for migraines, according to an analysis of data from more than 60 studies published Monday by JAMA Network Open.

Adults who were treated with a triptan were up to three times more likely to be pain-free two hours later than those who received the migraine drug Lasmiditan, which is sold as Reyvow; Rimegepant, branded as Nurtec ODT; or Urogepant, branded as Ubrelvy, the data showed.

However, the newer drugs – in the Gepants and Ditans drug classes – appear to have fewer side effects and may be safer for people with a history of heart disease or stroke, they said.

“New drugs for the treatment of acute migraines, Gepants or Ditans, are effective compared to placebo, but they are not as effective as triptans, the currently standard drugs for acute migraines,” said study co-author Dr. Shuu-Jiun Wang, to UPI in an An email.

“Even so, both Gepants and Ditans are safe for those at cardiovascular risk, and Gepants had a much lower rate of side effects,” said Wang, a neurologist at Taipei Veterans General Hospital in Taiwan.

Triptans like Sumatriptan or Imitrex, Naratriptan or Amerge, and Zolmitriptan or Zomig have been used for years to relieve pain from acute migraines or severe headaches, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

However, the drugs won’t work for everyone with migraines and can cause serious health complications in people with a history of heart disease or stroke, the foundation said.

Newer options mitigate some of these health risks, but they may not be as effective as older generation drugs, Wang said.

In all cases, triptans outperformed newer drugs in terms of pain relief, the data showed.

However, rimegepant and Ubrogepant were both safer for people with a history of heart disease or stroke and generally had fewer side effects than the triptans, the researchers said.

Common side effects of triptans include nausea, racing heart, tiredness, numbness, tingling, and a burning sensation on the skin, according to the American Migraine Foundation.

“These new drugs give migraineurs more choice,” said Wang.