Yes, there is an amazing medication that helps – 3 in 10 migraineurs! Ok, that doesn’t sound like much. Actually, it isn’t.
It is great for those 3, of course! But for the rest, no so great.
So what is this medication? Actually, it’s not just one medication – it’s most of the common ones you’ve heard of. No, I’m not saying that all medications only help 3 in 10, but that a single medication will probably only help 3 in 10.
They examined 59 drugs in 14 different drug classes. This would include medications like:
…and many more.
The researchers concluded that, generally speaking, individual drugs helped – at least, better than a placebo – about 200-400 people out of 1000.
Of course, whether they helped or not, many medications aren’t continued because of side effects. Some of the worst offenders include topiramate (Topamax), other antiepileptics used off label, and antidepressants.
Some drugs did much better when it came to side effects vs. benefit. These included angiotensin inhibitors (such as lisinopril (ie Zestril)) and beta-blockers (such as metoprolol or propranolol).
Other than the lack of a miracle drug, there were a couple of other things that did not impress the researchers. One was that many trials were of poor quality. Another was that there is a lack in research into the long term effects of these drugs, particularly when it comes to quality of life.
Again, this report is not suggesting that only 3 in 10 migraineurs can be helped with medication. Considering all the various drugs and treatments and combinations, that number is much higher. There is good treatment available!
But once again we’re reminded that migraine is very individual – what helps one person won’t help another.
We’re also reminded that much of the excellent migraine-fighting medication available today is still very new. We don’t have good studies, and we don’t know what the risks are when it comes to taking these meds long term.
A neurologist reflects on these findings: Effective Migraine Prevention per 215 Trials
Also see: Is your migraine preventive treatment balanced between drugs’ benefits and harms?