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New Drug Kicks 2nd Migraine Attack.

New Drug Kicks 2nd Migraine Attack
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

June 25, 2002 -- Still seeking relief from those blasted migraine headaches? Your doctor now has another option, called Frova. It's been FDA approved for treatment of adult migraine attacks, and it can help prevent headaches from coming back -- at least in the short term, according to a study presented at the American Headache Society meeting in Seattle this week.

Frova is in a class of drugs called triptans, which includes Imitrex, Axert, Amerge, Maxalt, and Zomig. These drugs activate serotonin receptors. Serotonin is a brain chemical associated with pain and pleasure pathways. How these drugs work to relieve migraines isn't clear, but they do narrow the blood vessels in the brain and scalp, which may help reduce pressure on pain-sensitive structures, and they may alter the way the brain perceives pain.

Trouble is, up to one-half of people taking these drugs have a migraine recurrence within 24 hours.

"You're dealing with an attack that wants to lurk around for 24 hours, so when the drug wears off, the attack's back," says study author Jan Brandes, MD, a clinical instructor of neurology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.

The difference with Frova is how long it stays in your bloodstream, says Brandes. Frova stays in the body for 26 hours, which is usually long enough to abort another headache. In fact, "if the first attack doesn't go away immediately, patients can take another dose at two hours and can use up to three tablets in a 24-hour period," she tells WebMD.

In five randomized studies involving more than 4,000 patients, Frova significantly reduced migraine pain when compared with those taking a placebo. Patients also reported less nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Headache recurrence rates were "consistently low -- 17%," Brandes says.

"Two-thirds of migraine patients were able to get to 'no pain' or 'mild pain' in four hours," she says. "That's pretty impressive, especially when you consider these patients had moderate to severe headaches. They were not treating mild pain. Imagine what the results would be if they were treating mild pain."

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