A clinical comparison of sumatriptan nasal spray and dihydroergotamine nasal spray in the acute treatment of migraine

Int J Clin Pract. 2000 Jun;54(5):281-6.


A multinational, multicentre, randomised, double-blind, double-dummy, crossover study (368 patients treating two attacks) was conducted to compare the efficacy and tolerability of sumatriptan nasal spray (20 mg) with dihydroergotamine (DHE) nasal spray (1 mg plus optional 1 mg). At the primary efficacy time point of 60 minutes after dosing, significantly more patients obtained headache relief (change from moderate or severe to none or mild) after treatment with sumatriptan than with DHE (53% sumatriptan, 41% DHE, p < 0.001). Significantly more patients reported relief of nausea after sumatriptan than after DHE at 60 minutes (64% sumatriptan, 49% DHE, p = 0.006). A significant difference between the two treatments was first observed at 45 minutes with respect to both headache relief (38% sumatriptan, 31% DHE, p = 0.037) and relief of nausea (55% sumatriptan, 40% DHE, p = 0.014). There were no significant differences between the two treatments for other measures of efficacy. Both treatments were well tolerated, with only 10% of patients in each group reporting one or more adverse events. The most frequently reported adverse event after sumatriptan was a bad or bitter taste, which was reported by 5% of patients. After DHE, 4% of patients reported symptoms of the nasal cavity/sinuses and 3% reported nausea and/or vomiting as adverse events. It is concluded that sumatriptan nasal spray is superior to DHE nasal spray in the relief of pain and nausea associated with acute migraine headache.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Belgium
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dihydroergotamine / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Portugal
  • Sumatriptan / therapeutic use*
  • Switzerland
  • Vasoconstrictor Agents / therapeutic use*


  • Vasoconstrictor Agents
  • Dihydroergotamine
  • Sumatriptan