At a meeting of The Migraine Trust International Research Symposium in London on September 23, 2002, a study was presented showing that Topamax (generic - Topiramate) treatment can lead to a significant reduction in the frequency of migraine headaches. Topamax was originally introduced as a medication for treating epilepsy and, as with many other anticonvulsants such as Depakote and Tegretol, was found to be effective as a mood stabilizer for those with bipolar disorder. Previous studies of Topamax for migraine headache were promising, but this new study offers the best evidence yet that Topamax can be of great help to migraine sufferers.
The latest double-blind study of 469 patients divided the participants into four groups receiving either:
- 50 mg Topamax
- 100 mg Topamax
- 200 mg Topamax or
- Placebo (inactive pill)
The researchers found that those who received either 100 or 200 mg of Topamax daily experienced an average 39 and 41 percent reduction in migraine frequency, respectively. As in previous studies, the number of people whose migraine frequency was cut in half or even better was substantially higher for those taking all doses of Topamax than those receiving a placebo:
- 200 mg - 52%
- 100 mg - 54%
- 50 mg - 36%
- Placebo - 23%
Finally, the patients' body weight at the beginning of the study was also measured, and the results once again proved that Topamax, unlike other anticonvulsants / mood stabilizers, can actually assist a person with weight loss:
- 100 and 200 mg - average 3.8% weight loss
- 50 mg - average 2.4% weight loss
- Placebo - average 0.3% weight gain
To put that in proportion, a 3.8 percent body weight loss translates to a 200 pound person losing 7.6 pounds in 26 weeks.
The number of patients who dropped out due to side effects was lowest - 10 percent - with placebo and highest - 33 percent - at 200 mg of Topamax daily. Most side effects were temporary or went away when the medication was discontinued (but see Topamax Warning).
In June of 2002 a smaller study found that Topamax provided significant migraine relief for pediatric pages (ages 8-10 in the study). In the 34 children who participated in that study, the results were substantial:
- migraine frequency - 77% reduction
- migraine severity - 68% reduction
- disability from migraine - 71% reduction
Using these studies and others, an application will be filed with the US Food and Drug Administration asking approval to market Topamax for treatment of migraine headaches.