Study suggests epilepsy drug does not prevent migrains

NEW YORK New research has suggested that the anti-epilepsy drug oxcarbazepine does not appear to prevent migraine headaches.

According to a study published in the journal Neurology by Stephen Silberstein of the Jefferson Headache Center in Philadelphia, some anti-epilepsy drugs have shown success in the prevention of migraine, and reports have suggested that oxcarbazepine—marketed by Novartis as Trileptal—would be effective as well. However, results of a study lasting almost five months, showed no difference between the oxcarbazepine and placebo groups in the change in the number of migraine attacks from the beginning to the end of the study.

The severity of the attacks and the amount of acute rescue medication required also was not affected by treatment allocation. “The results of this trial do not support preliminary data that had suggested oxcarbazepine was effective in preventing migraine,” Silberstein noted in a written statement. “While several epilepsy drugs have been used for decades to prevent migraine, oxcarbazepine did not prevent migraine in this study despite it being shown to be safe and well-tolerated.”

Silberstein also noted that the three epilepsy drugs that most effectively prevent migraine headaches—topiramate, divalproex and gabapentin—have several mechanisms by which they treat migraines, including the ability to regulate a brain chemical known as GABA. In contrast, oxcarbazepine has no apparent activity on GABA. Silberstein says it’s possible that epilepsy drugs must be able to regulate this specific brain chemical in order to prevent migraine headaches.

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