- A Visual Guide to Migraine Headaches Slideshow
- Headache and Migraine Triggers Slideshow
- Take the Migraines Quiz
- What is sumatriptan, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for sumatriptan?
- Is sumatriptan available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for sumatriptan?
- What are the side effects of sumatriptan?
- What is the dosage for sumatriptan?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with sumatriptan?
- Is sumatriptan safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about sumatriptan?
What is sumatriptan, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Sumatriptan is a drug that is used for treating migraine headaches. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin receptor agonists. Other members of this class include naratriptan (Amerge), zolmitriptan (Zomig), rizatriptan (Maxalt), frovatriptan (Frova), eletriptan (Relpax), and almotriptan (Axert).
Migraine headaches are believed to result from dilatation of blood vessels in the brain. Sumatriptan relieves migraines by stimulating serotonin receptors in the brain which cause the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the brain to contract and narrow the blood vessels. At the same time, it also reduces transmission of pain signals by nerves to the brain. While it is very effective in relieving migraine headaches, it does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches. The FDA approved sumatriptan in December 1992.
What brand names are available for sumatriptan?
Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro
What are the side effects of sumatriptan?
Side effects are generally transient. Some common side effects of sumatriptan:
- pain or tightness in the chest or throat,
- abdominal discomfort,
- nasal irritation, and
- injection site reactions.
Rarely, allergic reactions have been reported, usually in individuals who are highly allergic to multiple allergens. Sumatriptan may elevate blood pressure in individuals with or without a history of high blood pressure. Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure should not use sumatriptan.
Other important, but rare, side effects associated with sumatriptan include:
Quick GuideMigraine or Headache? Migraine Symptoms, Triggers, Treatment
What is the dosage for sumatriptan?
- The recommended oral dose is 25-100 mg and the maximum dose is 200 mg daily.
- The recommended intranasal dose is 5-20 mg and the maximum dose is 40 mg daily.
- The recommended injection dose is 4 or 6 mg injected under the skin. T
- he maximum dose is two 6 mg injections separated by 1 hour.
- The recommended dose for the Zecuity patch is one patch applied to dry intact, non-irritated skin on the upper arm or thigh on a site that is relatively hair free and is without scars, tattoos, abrasions, or other skin conditions.
Which drugs or supplements interact with sumatriptan?
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), and procarbazine (Matulane), may reduce the breakdown of sumatriptan in the liver, leading to increased blood levels and side effects of sumatriptan.
Combining sumatriptan with sibutramine (Meridia), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, including fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft) or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, including venlafaxine (Effexor), duloxetine (Cymbalta), and desvenlafaxine (Pristiq) may increase the concentration of serotonin in the brain, causing increased serotonin-related side effects.
Administering sumatriptan within 24 hours of treatment with an ergot-containing medication (dihydroergotamine [Migranal], ergotamine [Methergine]) is contraindicated because such combinations increase the likelihood of vasospasms.
Is sumatriptan safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Safe use in pregnancy has not been established.
Sumatriptan is excreted in breast milk. Infant exposure may be reduced by avoiding breast feeding for 12 hours after administration of sumatriptan.
What else should I know about sumatriptan?
What preparations of sumatriptan are available?
- Tablets: 25, 50, 100 mg
- Intranasal Solution: 5, 20 mg
- Injection Solution: 4 and 6 mg/0.5 ml
- Transdermal System (Patch): 86 mg (6.5 mg over 4 hours)
How should I keep sumatriptan stored?
- Sumatriptan tablets and solution should be stored between 2 C and 30 C (36 F and 86 F).
- The patch should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
Sumatriptan (Imitrex, Alsuma, Imitrex STATdose System, Sumavel DosePro) is in a class of drugs referred to as selective serotonin receptor agonists, and is prescribed for the treatment of migraine and cluster headaches. Side effects, warnings and precautions, and drug interaction information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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Migraines and Headaches Resources
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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