Clinical and economic comparison of frovatriptan versus other oral triptans in the treatment of acute migraine in the real-world setting

Mario Guidotti, Roberto Ravasio
Clinical Drug Investigation 2009, 29 (11): 693-702
Triptans (serotonin 5-HT(1B/1D) receptor agonists) such as frovatriptan have been shown to be highly effective and well tolerated in the treatment of patients with acute migraine. However, the large number of available triptans has led to the issue of how best to decide which triptan should be prescribed at an individual patient level. This review focuses on frovatriptan and highlights parameters that affect oral triptan choice, discusses the results of several open-label clinical and post-marketing surveillance studies of frovatriptan, and compares these naturalistic data with those from similar studies of other oral triptans. Efficacy data obtained from these trials are used to compare costs of treating migraine with frovatriptan and other oral triptans in four European countries. Studies of triptans in migraine have used several outcomes deemed important to patients, including complete pain relief, absence of recurrence, rapid onset of action, no side effects, restoration of functional ability, improvements in quality of life, and cost. In contrast to indirect evidence from some individual randomized, double-blind studies, results from open-label naturalistic studies and a meta-analysis of 31 placebo-controlled efficacy studies suggest that frovatriptan is associated with a lower rate of migraine recurrence than with other triptans in a real-world clinical setting (17% for frovatriptan 2.5 mg vs 23-40% for other triptans in the meta-analysis). It is likely that this may be due to the terminal elimination half-life of this agent (about 26 hours), which is longer than that of other triptans. Naturalistic studies indicate that the long duration of action of frovatriptan appears to confer other benefits such as greater patient satisfaction, with over 90% of patients and doctors rating frovatriptan therapy as 'very good' or 'good'. The cost of treatment with different triptans based on the number of tablets required per episode varies widely in each of the four countries analysed (Great Britain Pound 4.95-7.98 in France, Great Britain Pound 6.78-12.58 in Germany, Great Britain Pound 4.32-9.73 in the UK and Great Britain Pound 6.69-10.36 in Italy, based on lowest possible costs for branded versions in 2008) due to differences in both the acquisition costs of these agents and in the headache recurrence rates. Frovatriptan compares favourably with other available triptans with regard to cost per migraine attack on this basis, although head-to-head studies are required to confirm these data. The low rate of headache recurrence with frovatriptan compared with other oral triptans, and the associated lower treatment costs, deserve consideration when choosing an oral triptan for the treatment of patients with acute migraine.

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