The recent success of Imitrex-the antimigraine drug made by Glaxo Wellcome Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C.-has ignited a fury of pharmaceutical research. Imitrex (generic: sumatriptan) is the first serotonin (5-HT) agonist, or mimic, made to fight migraines. In 1996, Imitrex tablets reaped $840 million in worldwide sales. Now, a half-dozen companies are creating new brands of migraine relief-and opening the door to neuroscientists and molecular biologists in the process.

A TRAILBLAZER: The usccess of Imitrex, the migraine drug from Glaxo Wellcome that reaped $840 million in sales last year, has promped other companies to develop similar drugs.
According to the National Headache Foundation in Chicago, Americans spend more than $4 billion annually on drugs to stop migraine pain. For years, the standbys have been aspirin and a variety of drugs based on ergotamine, a compound that generally reduces blood vessel swelling. Drug companies had largely dismissed the headache...

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