To compare the combination of oral metoclopramide plus an analgesic with oral triptan monotherapy in the treatment of migraine attacks in outpatients.
A search of PubMed (1966-October 2007), EMBASE (1974-October 2007), and International Pharmaceutical Abstracts (1970-October 2007) was conducted using the search terms metoclopramide, migraine, and oral. References of articles identified initially were also reviewed.
Studies evaluating the efficacy and safety of oral metoclopramide compared with oral triptans for migraine treatment were included. Studies of non-oral forms of metoclopramide or studies that compared oral metoclopramide with placebo, analgesics, ergotamine, or other migraine therapies were excluded. Studies in which oral metoclopramide was combined with a triptan were also excluded.
In the studies identified, oral metoclopramide was combined with aspirin or a similar analgesic. All of the studies assessed headache severity using a 4-point scale (0 = no pain, 1 = mild pain, 2 = moderate pain, 3 = severe pain). Headache relief was defined as a decrease in headache pain from grade 3 or 2 to grade 1 or 0 and was commonly assessed at 2 hours. For all primary and secondary efficacy outcomes-including migraine-associated nausea and vomiting-oral triptans were similar or superior to oral metoclopramide plus an analgesic. The combination was better tolerated, with no reports of serious metoclopramide adverse events such as extrapyramidal symptoms or tardive dyskinesia.
Combinations containing oral metoclopramide plus an analgesic may be an option for patients in whom triptans are contraindicated or who experience intolerable adverse effects, or when cost is an issue. However, patients and physicians should be aware that the combination will likely be less effective than oral triptans in treatment of migraine and its associated symptoms. To determine the role of combination therapy that includes oral metoclopramide in mild-to-moderate migraines, further studies are warranted.