Use of triptans for acute treatment of migraine is associated with insufficient efficacy and/or tolerability in approximately 30-40% of people. We conducted a systematic literature review (SLR) to synthesize definitions, terminology, subsequent treatment outcomes, and characteristics associated with this subpopulation.
A comprehensive SLR was conducted to identify studies, published from Jan 1995 to May 2019, which focused on insufficient efficacy and/or tolerability to triptans.
Thirty-five publications were identified, of which 22 described randomized controlled trials and open-label studies, and 13 described observational studies. Across studies, multiple objectives and a high amount of variability in methodologies and outcomes were noted. The most commonly applied measures of efficacy were headache pain freedom and pain relief at 2 h. Ten studies assessed efficacy of switching or optimizing treatment in patients with historical insufficient efficacy or tolerability to previous triptan treatment and demonstrated varying levels of success. Factors associated with increased risk of triptan insufficient efficacy included severe baseline headache severity, photophobia, phonophobia, nausea, and depression.
Irrespective of the methodology or definition used to identify people with insufficient efficacy and/or tolerability to triptans, study results support the assertion that a high unmet need remains for effective acute treatment of migraine.

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