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FDA Approves Topamax for Preventing Migraines

Study Shows Epilepsy Drug Cuts Migraine Occurrences in Half
WebMD Health News

Aug. 12, 2004 -- A drug commonly used to control epilepsy seizures may also control migraine headaches. Today the FDA approved the drug Topamax for preventing migraine headaches in adults.

Nearly 14 million Americans suffer frequent or severe migraines, but only about one in 10 takes prevention medications, according to the National Headache Foundation.

A study published earlier this year in TheJournal of the American Medical Association, showed patients taking 100 milligrams or 200 milligrams of Topamax daily experienced roughly half as many migraine headaches per month as patients taking a placebo.

The FDA approved Topamax(R) (topiramate) tablets and Topamax(R) sprinkle capsules for the prophylaxis (prevention) of migraine headaches in adults. The drug is not approved for the treatment of migraine headaches after they occur; what's known as acute treatment.

Topamax Approved for Preventing Migraine

Migraine headaches are caused by overactive nerves in the brain which release chemicals that cause pain and inflammation of blood vessels in the brain.

Most medications currently approved for migraine treatment are designed to relieve symptoms after a migraine attack begins.

For people with frequent or severe migraines, using a preventive medication may reduce the frequency of their attacks. Preventive headache medications include beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants, such as Topamax.

The most common side effect associated with Topamax use is tingling in the extremities, such as arms and legs. Others may include fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, taste alteration, diarrhea, weight loss, and side effects on memory.

Topamax has been approved for prevention of migraines in 22 countries. The drug is marketed in the U.S. by Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical, Inc., which is a WebMD sponsor.

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