Literature Review

Celecoxib oral solution treats migraine effectively in randomized trial



An oral solution of celecoxib is more effective than placebo for the acute treatment of migraine, according to trial results published in the January issue of Headache.

Richard B. Lipton, MD, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York

Dr. Richard B. Lipton

Two hours after treatment, a significantly greater proportion of patients who received the liquid solution, known as DFN-15, had freedom from pain and freedom from their most bothersome accompanying symptom – nausea, photophobia, or phonophobia – compared with patients who received placebo. The pain freedom rates were 35.6% with celecoxib oral solution and 21.7% with placebo. The rates of freedom from the most bothersome symptom were 57.8% with celecoxib oral solution and 44.8% with placebo.

About 9% of patients who received celecoxib oral solution had treatment-emergent adverse events related to the study drug, the most common of which were dysgeusia (4.2%) and nausea (3.2%). In comparison, about 6% of patients who received placebo had treatment-emergent adverse events. There were no serious treatment-emergent adverse events.

“DFN‐15 has the potential to become a reliable and convenient acute therapeutic option for patients with migraine,” said lead author Richard B. Lipton, MD, and colleagues. Dr. Lipton is affiliated with the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Assessing celecoxib in migraineurs

Evidence-based guidelines recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, and naproxen, as effective acute migraine treatments, but these medications may increase the risk of adverse gastrointestinal events, the authors said. Celecoxib, a selective cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 inhibitor, is indicated for the treatment of acute pain in patients with ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, primary dysmenorrhea, and rheumatoid arthritis. Although it produces analgesia similar to other NSAIDs, among patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, celecoxib is associated with significantly lower risk of gastrointestinal events, compared with naproxen and ibuprofen, and significantly lower risk of renal events, compared with ibuprofen.

Researchers have studied an oral capsule form of celecoxib (Celebrex, Pfizer) as an acute treatment for migraine in an open-label study that compared celecoxib with naproxen sodium. “While preliminary results suggest comparable efficacy but better tolerability than widely used and guideline-recommended NSAIDs, celecoxib is not currently approved for migraine,” the authors said.

Compared with the oral capsule formulation, the oral liquid solution DFN-15 has a faster median time to peak concentration under fasting conditions (within 1 hour vs. 2.5 hours), which “could translate into more rapid onset of pain relief,” the authors said. In addition, DFN-15 may have greater bioavailability, which could lower dose requirements and improve safety and tolerability. To compare the efficacy, tolerability, and safety of 120-mg DFN-15 with placebo for the acute treatment of migraine, researchers conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Participants used single-dose bottles

Researchers randomized 622 patients 1:1 to DFN-15 or placebo, and 567 treated a migraine during the trial. Patients had a mean age of 40 years, and 87% were female. Patients had episodic migraine with or without aura, no signs of medication overuse, and two-eight migraine attacks per month. For the trial, patients treated a single migraine attack of moderate to severe intensity within 1 hour of onset. “Each subject was given a single‐dose bottle of DFN‐15 120 mg or matching placebo containing 4.8 mL liquid,” Dr. Lipton and colleagues said. “They were instructed to drink the entire contents of the bottle to ensure complete consumption of study medication.”

Freedom from pain and freedom from the most bothersome symptom at 2 hours were the coprimary endpoints. “DFN‐15 was also significantly superior to placebo on multiple secondary 2‐hour endpoints, including freedom from photophobia, pain relief, change in functional disability from baseline, overall and 24‐hour satisfaction with treatment, and use of rescue medication,” they reported.

“A new COX‐2 inhibitor that is effective and rapidly absorbed could provide an important new option for a wide range of patients,” the authors said. “Though cross‐study comparisons are problematic, the current results for DFN‐15 indicate that its efficacy is similar to that of NSAIDs and small‐molecule calcitonin gene‐related peptide receptor antagonists (gepants), based on placebo‐subtracted rates pain freedom in acute treatment trials (14%‐21%). DFN‐15 may also be useful among triptan users, who are at elevated risk of medication‐overuse headache and for whom TEAEs within 24 hours postdose are common. ... The form and delivery system of DFN‐15 – a ready‐to‐use solution in a 4.8‐mL single‐use bottle – may support patient adherence.”

The trial had robust placebo response rates, which may have been influenced by “the novelty of a ready‐made oral solution, which has not been previously tested for the acute treatment of migraine,” the authors noted. In addition, the trial does not address the treatment of mild pain or treatment across multiple attacks.

The trial was supported by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, manufacturer of DFN-15. Two authors are employed by and own stock in Dr. Reddy’s. Dr. Lipton and a coauthor disclosed research support from and consulting for Dr. Reddy’s.

SOURCE: Lipton RB et al. Headache. 2020;60(1):58-70. doi: 10.1111/head.13663.

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