Antimigraine Agents Pharmacology Cheat Sheet

For many years, the one standard treatment for migraine headaches was acute analgesia, often involving a narcotic, together with control of lighting and sound and the use of ergot derivatives. In the late 1990s, a new class of drugs, the triptans, was found to be extremely effective in treating migraine headaches without the adverse effects associated with ergot derivative use.

Because these agents are associated with many systemic adverse effects, their usefulness is limited in some patients. Below Table includes additional information about each class of antimigraine agents.


The antimigraine drugs are serotonin 5HT1 agonists. These drugs constrict cranial vessels, inhibit neuropeptide release, and reduce transmission in the trigeminal nerve pathway.

Adverse Reactions

These drugs have a wide range of adverse reactions. These include tingling, warmth or hot sensations, flushing, nasal discomfort, visual disturbances, parasthesias, dizziness, fatigue, somnolence, chest pain, neck, throat or jaw pain, weakness, dry mouth, dyspepsia, nausea, sweating, and injection site reactions. Intranasal sumatriptan can cause nasal or throat discomfort and taste disturbances.

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