CNS Drugs

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 653–667

Speed of Onset and Efficacy of Zolmitriptan Nasal Spray in the Acute Treatment of Migraine

A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Ranging Study versus Zolmitriptan Tablet
  • Bruce R. Charlesworth
  • Andrew J. Dowson
  • Allan Purdy
  • Werner J. Becker
  • Steen Boes-Hansen
  • Markus Färkkilä
Original Research Article

DOI: 10.2165/00023210-200317090-00005

Cite this article as:
Charlesworth, B.R., Dowson, A.J., Purdy, A. et al. CNS Drugs (2003) 17: 653. doi:10.2165/00023210-200317090-00005


Objective: Zolmitriptan oral tablet is highly effective and well tolerated in the acute treatment of migraine with and without aura in adults. A nasal spray formulation has now been developed. The objective of this study was to compare the efficacy and tolerability of fixed doses of zolmitriptan administered via a nasal spray with placebo and zolmitriptan oral tablet in the acute treatment of migraine.

Patients and study design: This was a randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicentre, dose-ranging study. 1547 patients aged 18–65 years with an established diagnosis of migraine with or without aura (as defined by International Headache Society criteria) who had at least a 1-year history of migraine and an age of onset <50 years were included. Patients were able to distinguish typical migraine from nonmigraine headaches and had experienced an average of one to six migraine headaches per month during the 2 months preceding the study. Patients were randomised to zolmitriptan (Zomig®1) nasal spray (5.0, 2.5, 1.0 or 0.5mg), zolmitriptan oral tablet (2.5mg) or placebo for the treatment of three moderate or severe migraine attacks. The primary outcome measure was headache response at 2 hours following treatment, defined as reduced intensity of migraine pain (using a scale of none, mild, moderate or severe) from severe or moderate at baseline to mild or no pain at 2 hours after treatment. Secondary outcome measures included early headache response at 15, 30 and 45 minutes and headache response at 1 and 4 hours postdose, as well as pain-free rates at 15, 30 and 45 minutes and 1, 2 and 4 hours postdose. Laboratory assessments, vital signs, 12-lead ECGs and nose and throat examinations were performed at screening and follow-up visits. Adverse events were recorded throughout the study using Coding Symbols for Thesaurus of Adverse Reaction Terms (COSTART) terminology.

Results: Each dose of zolmitriptan nasal spray produced a greater 2-hour headache response rate than placebo (70.3%, 58.6%, 54.8% and 41.5% for zolmitriptan nasal spray 5.0, 2.5, 1.0 and 0.5mg, compared with 30.6% for placebo [all p < 0.001 vs placebo]). The 2-hour headache response rate for zolmitriptan nasal spray 5.0mg was significantly higher than that of the zolmitriptan 2.5mg oral tablet (61.3%; p < 0.05), while comparisons of nasal spray 0.5, 1.0 and 2.5mg with zolmitriptan 2.5mg oral tablet were not statistically significant. The nasal spray 5.0 and 2.5mg showed a rapid onset of action, with a significant difference in headache response compared with placebo from 15 minutes through 4 hours after administration and a significant difference between the nasal spray 5.0mg and 2.5mg oral tablet from 15 minutes through to 2 hours (the other nasal spray doses were not statistically significant compared with 2.5mg oral tablet). Zolmitriptan nasal spray resulted in pain-free rates that were dose dependent. While all doses from l.0mg upwards produced significant pain-free outcomes from 30 minutes versus placebo, only the 5.0mg dose produced pain-free rates significantly superior to both placebo and the 2.5mg oral tablet. Zolmitriptan nasal spray was well tolerated, with the most common adverse events being unusual taste and paresthesia. The majority of adverse events were of short duration and mild or moderate intensity. Only ten patients were withdrawn from the trial because of adverse events. Serious adverse events were reported by nine patients after taking study medication, but none was considered to be causally related to study medication. Zolmitriptan was not associated with any clinically significant changes in laboratory test values or vital signs.

Conclusion: All doses of zolmitriptan nasal spray produced significant 2-hour headache response rates compared with placebo. The 5.0 and 2.5mg doses were also significantly more effective than placebo for the majority of secondary efficacy measures. Zolmitriptan nasal spray 5.0mg provided a headache response statistically superior to both placebo and the 2.5mg tablet as early as 15 minutes after administration, while demonstrating pain-free outcomes significantly superior to placebo and the 2.5mg tablet as early as 30 minutes after administration. All doses of zolmitriptan nasal spray were well tolerated, resulting in an optimal therapeutic index and clinical recommendation for the 5.0mg dose.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce R. Charlesworth
    • 1
  • Andrew J. Dowson
    • 2
  • Allan Purdy
    • 3
  • Werner J. Becker
    • 4
  • Steen Boes-Hansen
    • 5
  • Markus Färkkilä
    • 6
  1. 1.AstraZenecaMacclesfieldUK
  2. 2.The Kings Headache ServicesKings College HospitalLondonEngland
  3. 3.Queen Elizabeth II Health Science CentreHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Foothills Medical CenterCalgaryCanada
  5. 5.KronobergsklinikenVaxjoSweden
  6. 6.Helsinki Headache CenterHelsinkiFinland