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Some Migraine Meds No Better Than Placebo for Children and Adolescents


By Jonathan Block

October 31, 2016

Some Migraine Meds No Better Than Placebo for Children and Adolescents

Children and adolescents who suffer from migraine headaches are no better off taking the prescription drugs Topamax (topiramate) or Elavil (amitriptyline). Both medications are commonly prescribed for migraine in this population.

Researchers conducted a randomized trial of children ranging in age from 8 to 17 years old with a history of migraines. The participants received Topamax, Elavil or a placebo. There was no significant difference in terms of a reduction in the number of headache days among the 3 groups, the researchers reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.

In addition, the children in the Topamax and Elavil arms had higher rates of adverse events compared to those in the placebo arm.


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“There were no significant differences in reduction in headache frequency or headache-related disability in childhood and adolescent migraine with amitriptyline, topiramate, or placebo over a period of 24 weeks,” the researchers concluded.

In a Cochrane Review conducted earlier this year, the NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) ibuprofen and a class of migraine meds known as triptans (Axert, Imitrex) were found to be the best drugs to treat migraines in children and adolescents. Tylenol (acetaminophen) was found to be ineffective.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.

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Last updated: October 31, 2016