NSAID/Triptan Combo Improves Treatment-Resistant Migraine

Jim Kling

June 19, 2020

A combination of rizatriptan and the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) meloxicam formulated to improve oral absorption led to better pain control than did rizatriptan alone in a phase 3 clinical trial. 

The combination (AXS-07), in development by Axsome Therapeutics, was also safe and well tolerated, according to Cedric O'Gorman, MD, Axsome senior vice president for clinical development and medical affairs. It was tested in subjects who had inadequately responded to previous treatment and who had an average of 2-8 migraines per month.

The therapy combines 10-mg rizatriptan with 20-mg meloxicam delivered by the company's MoSEIC technology. "Treatment with AXS-07 resulted in rapid, sustained, substantial, and statistically significant effect as compared with rizatriptan and placebo. The enhanced effect of AXS-07 may be especially relevant for patients with more difficult-to-treat migraine," said Dr. O'Gorman during a presentation of the study at the virtual annual meeting of the American Headache Society.

Matthew Robbins, MD, said in an interview, "This combination may be particularly useful for patients who want to take an oral medication but still need rapid and sustained pain freedom." Dr. Robbins is the neurology residency program director at New York Presbyterian Hospital and an associate professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, New York. He was not involved in the research.

The study randomized 1,594 patients 2:2:2:1 to AXS-07, rizatriptan alone, MoSEIC meloxicam alone, or placebo, which could be administered immediately after a migraine event. Between 35% and 40% of participants across the groups had previously used triptans. The mean migraine treatment optimization questionnaire (mTOQ4) score was 3.6, indicating that the population was made up of people with poor responses to medication. Among patients in the study group, 37%-43% had severe pain intensity, 41%-47% were obese, and 35%-37% had morning migraine.

At 2 hours, more patients in the AXS-07 group than in the placebo group were pain free (19.9% vs. 6.7%; P < 0.001). They were also more likely to experience freedom from the most bothersome symptom at 2 hours (36.9% vs. 24.4%; P = 0.002).

Secondary outcome measures favored the AXS-07 group when compared with the rizatriptan-only group, including 1-hour pain relief (44% vs. 37%; P = 0.04), 2- to 24-hour sustained pain relief (53% vs. 44%; P = 0.006), 2- to 48-hour sustained pain relief (47% vs. 37%; P = 0.003), 2- to 24-hour sustained pain freedom (16% vs. 11%; P = 0.038), 2- to 48-hour sustained pain freedom (15% vs. 8.8%; P = 0.003), rescue medication use (23% vs. 35%; P < 0.001), a rating of much or very much improved on the Patient Global Impression of Change (PGI-C) scale (47% vs. 39%; P = 0.022), and functional improvement at 24 hours (64% vs. 56%; P = 0.027).

"The percentage of patients achieving pain relief with AXS-07 was numerically greater than with rizatriptan at every time point measure, starting at 15 minutes, and was statistically significant by 60 minutes. This is significant because rizatriptan is widely recognized as the fastest-acting and one of the most effective oral triptans," said Dr. O'Gorman.

The frequency of adverse events was 11.0% in the AXS-07, 15.4% in the rizatriptan group, 11.5% in the meloxicam group, and 6.0% in the placebo group.

"The added benefit of this study was the demonstration of efficacy in patients who have previously failed other acute treatments. We know that ineffective acute treatments are a likely risk factor for the progression of episodic migraine to chronic migraine, and the more options that we have for our patients, the better," Dr. Robbins commented.

He remains concerned about cost and access, however. A limited number of tablets per month for acute treatments prompt clinicians to prescribe the medications individually and advise patients to take them in combination. "Rizatriptan is generally available in 12 monthly tablets by many coverage plans, and I would hope that, if ultimately FDA approved, a similar allotment is made affordable and accessible," he said.

The study was funded by Axsome Therapeutics. Dr. O'Gorman is an employee of Axsome. Dr. Robbins has no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: O'Gorman C et al. AHS 2020, Abstract 840673.

This story originally appeared on MDedge.com.

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