Cost effectiveness of oral triptan therapy: a trans-national comparison based on a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Curr Med Res Opin. 2004 May;20(5):659-69. doi: 10.1185/030079904125003403.


Objective: The objective of this study was to appraise the relative cost effectiveness of oral triptan therapy in the management of acute migraine, comparing the results obtained using drug cost data from six different countries, USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy and The Netherlands.

Method: A meta-analysis of randomised placebo controlled trials of single dose oral triptans was carried out in order to calculate aggregate Numbers Needed to Treat (NNT) for each triptan and dose. Cost effectiveness ratios were then derived for each treatment by applying mean drug acquisition costs for each country to these NNTs. Using a graphical plot for each country, incremental cost effectiveness comparisons were then made versus sumatriptan 100 mg, the most commonly used oral triptan.

Results: When analysed in terms of 2-h pain one country to another. When compared to free outcomes, rizatriptan 10 mg and eletriptan 40 and 80 mg were the most effective oral triptans. Rizatriptan 10mg has the most advantageous absolute cost effectiveness ratio in all six countries studied, although levels of statistical significance compared to other agents varied from sumatriptan 100mg, rizatriptan 10 mg and eletriptan 40 mg are most consistently the cost effective treatment choices, both being cost dominant in five out of six countries studied.

Conclusions: There are systematic differences in triptan efficacy that have an impact on treatment choice. Differences in pricing structure between countries mean that hierarchies of cost effectiveness will vary. Country-specific data should therefore be examined before defining treatment strategies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Drug Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / administration & dosage
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / economics*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triazoles / administration & dosage
  • Triazoles / economics*
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use*


  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Triazoles