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New Migraine Drug Might Be Safer for Some

And an old standby might help prevent headache from starting up, report finds

THURSDAY, April 22 (HealthDay News) -- A drug under development could help patients with migraines, while an existing epilepsy drug might prevent the headaches from developing in the first place, new research suggests.

The report, published April 21 in The Lancet, examines the migraine drug telcagepant, which is not yet available, and topiramate (Topamax), an epilepsy drug sometimes used to treat migraines when they occur.

Telcagepant relieves pain in a similar way to the drugs known as triptans that are used to treat migraine. But it doesn't cause blood vessels to constrict, a troublesome side effect for people with heart disease, the report says.

Triptans often don't work, and they can cause side effects like dizziness, throat tightness, chest discomfort and numbness. For its part, telcagepant can cause side effects like dry mouth, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness.

Telcagepant is a "promising compound," writing the study authors, but add that further investigation is needed.

Also in the report, the authors say topiramate is showing promise as a preventive treatment for migraines. It's cost-effective and typically leads to weight loss instead of weight gain, they report.

The authors write that the drug "should especially be considered for adult patients who are overweight, or have epilepsy or a contraindication to beta blockers. It is generally safe and well-tolerated. Thus topiramate is an important drug for difficult cases."

The report authors are Dr. Lars Edvinsson of University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, and Dr. Mattias Linde of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about migraine headaches.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, April 21, 2010

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