Conference Coverage

Novel NSAID–triptan drug effectively relieves migraine pain


From AHS 2021

A novel formulation containing meloxicam and rizatriptan provides effective pain relief for patients with migraine, new research suggests. Results from the phase 3 INTERCEPT trial show that the treatment, known as AXS-07 (Axsome Therapeutics), also provided greater relief from the patients’ most bothersome symptom (MBS) compared with placebo.

In addition, about 74% of patients who received AXS-07 experienced no progression of pain from 2 to 24 hours after dosing and were less than half as likely to use rescue medication through 24 hours than those who received placebo.

Similar to a previous formulation combining naproxen sodium and sumatriptan, AXS-07 combines a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug with a triptan. The combination is synergistic, investigators note, because one drug addresses pain mechanisms that the other does not.

“Rizatriptan’s primary mechanism is peripheral, and NSAIDs have both peripheral and central benefit,” said study investigator Stewart J. Tepper, MD, professor of neurology, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, N.H. “That is why the whole is greater than the sum of the parts,” Dr. Tepper added.

The findings were presented at the American Headache Society’s 2021 annual meeting.

Acute treatments needed

For many patients, current migraine treatments are inadequate. In addition, suboptimal acute treatment can increase risk for progression from episodic migraine to chronic migraine. It also increases the risk for medication-overuse headache.

The search for optimal acute treatments is therefore “really important for patients,” Dr. Tepper noted.

Because it contains rizatriptan, AXS-07 is believed to inhibit the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide, reverse the vasodilation that it causes, and decrease the transmission of pain signals. Meloxicam, on the other hand, is thought to reduce neuroinflammation and reverse central sensitization, which maintains chronic pain.

In the phase 3, double-blind INTERCEPT trial, the investigators examined AXS-07 for early treatment of migraine. Eligible patients were aged 18 to 65 years, had been diagnosed with migraine in accordance with ICHD-3 criteria, and averaged two to eight migraines per month.

The researchers randomly assigned a single dose of AXS-07 (n = 152) or placebo (n = 150). Participants were asked to administer treatment to themselves at the earliest sign of migraine pain.

The trial’s two primary endpoints were pain freedom and freedom from the MBS 2 hours after dosing. Secondary endpoints included sustained pain freedom and freedom from pain progression, functional disability, and use of rescue medication.

Demographic characteristics of the study population reflected those of the general population of people with migraine, according to the researchers. More than 85% of participants were women, and the study group’s mean age was 41 years. There were no demographic differences between the two treatment groups.

Reduced pain progression

Results showed that 2 hours after treatment, rate of pain freedom was 32.6% in the AXS-07 group and 16.3% in the placebo group (P = .002). At the same time point, rate of freedom from MBS was 43.9% and 26.7%, respectively (P = .003).

Approximately 64% of patients who received AXS-07 were pain free at 12 hours, and 69% were pain free at 24 hours. In contrast, 42% of the placebo group were pain free at 12 hours, and 47% were pain free at 24 hours (P < .001 for both comparisons).

The benefits AXS-07 provided were sustained; 22.7% of the active-treatment group achieved sustained pain freedom from 2 to 24 hours after treatment, compared with 12.6% of the placebo group (P = .03). Results were similar for sustained pain freedom from 2 to 48 hours after treatment (20.5% vs. 9.6%; P = .013).

In addition, 73.5% of patients who received AXS-07 had freedom from pain progression from 2 to 24 hours after treatment, versus 47.4% of those who received placebo (P < .001). The rate of rescue medication use through 24 hours was 15.3% and 42.2%, respectively (P < .001).

AXS-07 was also linked to significant reductions in functional disability. About 74% of patients who received it reported no disability at 24 hours, compared with 47% of patients who received placebo (P < .001). Scores on the Patient Global Impression of Change scale were very much improved or much improved 2 hours after dosing for 52.4% of the AXS-07 group, versus 27.7% of the placebo group (P < .001).

The overall rate of treatment-emergent adverse events (AEs) was 17.9% in the active group and 7.7% among the control group. The rate of somnolence was 4.3%, versus 2.1%; the rate of dizziness was 2.9%, versus 1.4%; and the rate of paresthesia was 2.1%, versus 0%. There were no serious AEs.

“Unexpectedly, and it’s hard to interpret this, but the nausea associated with the use of AXS-07 is less than with either of the active components or the placebo,” said Dr. Tepper. “It’s not dramatically different for dizziness.”


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