Sugar pills work as well as leading prescribed drugs on juvenile migraine — and no side effects

❝ Sugar pills worked as well at preventing kids’ migraines as two commonly used headache medicines, but had fewer side effects, in a study that may lead doctors to rethink how they treat a common ailment in children and teens.

It’s the first rigorous head-to-head test in kids of two generic prescription drugs also used for adults’ migraines: topiramate, an anti-seizure medicine, and amitriptyline, an anti-depressant. The idea was to see if either drug could reduce by half the number of days kids had migraines over a month’s time. Both drugs worked that well — but so did placebo sugar pills.

❝ The study was released online Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and National Institute of Child Health and Human Development paid for the research.

“The fact that it shows that two of the most commonly used medications are no more effective than a placebo and have adverse effects makes a very clear statement,” said Dr. Leon Epstein…He said it should lead neurologists to rely on other prevention strategies; he advises lifestyle changes including getting more sleep and reducing stress, which he said can help prevent migraines in teen patients…

❝ Side effects from the drugs were common, including fatigue, dry mouth and forgetfulness. Almost one-third of kids on topiramate also had tingling sensations in their hands, arms, legs or feet. There was one suicide attempt in the topiramate group, another known side-effect of that drug.

The side effects were not unexpected, but given the risks, the results suggest the drugs shouldn’t be “first-line prevention treatments” for kids’ migraines, study author Scott Powers said.

Sad commentary on much of American medicine: inadequate testing to determine effectiveness – lax IMHO. Drug manufacturers are essentially focused on achieving at least a minimal positive effect – while not killing the patient – and providing the highest possible profit margin.

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