How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Eletriptan belongs to the class of medications known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists. Eletriptan is used to treat migraine headaches with or without aura (warning signs that occur before the migraine headache begins) in adults. It is not used to prevent migraine headaches or to treat any other type of migraine headache including hemiplegic (one side of the head only), ophthalmoplegic (affecting the eye area only), or basilar (at the bottom of the head only) migraine.

Migraine headaches are thought to be caused by the dilation (widening) of the blood vessels in the head. Eletriptan works by causing the blood vessels of the head to constrict. For most people, eletriptan eliminates or reduces the symptoms of migraine attacks including headache, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Most people notice an effect within 2 hours after taking the medication.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

20 mg
Each orange, round, film-coated tablet contains eletriptan HBr 24.2 mg equivalent to eletriptan (base) 20 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C Yellow No. 6, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

40 mg
Each orange, round, film-coated tablet contains eletriptan HBr 48.5 mg equivalent to eletriptan (base) 40 mg. Nonmedicinal ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, FD&C Yellow No. 6, hypromellose, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, polydextrose, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, and triacetin.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended adult dose of eletriptan is one 20 mg or 40 mg tablet taken at the first sign of a migraine headache. If your headache improves but returns after an initial dose of 20 mg, an additional 20 mg dose may be taken but no sooner than 2 hours after the first dose.

If the initial dose of 20 mg is not effective at all, a second dose will not likely be helpful. If the initial dose is 40 mg, a second dose is not recommended. The maximum dose of eletriptan is 40 mg per day. If you need to treat more than 3 headaches in a 30-day period, talk with your doctor.

Swallow the tablet whole with water. Do not crush, chew, or split the tablets.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important that this medication be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.

Store this medication at room temperature, protect from heat, light and moisture, and keep it out of reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you:

  • are allergic to eletriptan or any ingredients of the medication
  • have a history of heart attack or silent heart ischemia
  • have angina pectoris (chest pain) and Prinzmetal angina (coronary artery vasospasm)
  • have cerebrovascular (e.g., stroke or transient ischemic attacks [TIAs]) or peripheral vascular syndromes (e.g., ischemic bowel disease, Raynaud's syndrome)
  • have certain types of migraine headaches (e.g., basilar, hemiplegic, or ophthalmoplegic)
  • have heart disease or a history of heart disease (e.g., heart valve disease, ischemic heart disease, congenital heart disease, abnormal heart rhythms)
  • have high blood pressure that is severe or uncontrolled
  • have severe liver disease
  • have taken any of the following drugs in the past 72 hours: clarithromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, or troleandomycin
  • have taken ergotamine-containing or ergot-type medications (such as dihydroergotamine or methysergide) or another 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonist (e.g., almotriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan) in the previous 24 hours

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • dizziness
  • feeling weak
  • increased sweating
  • muscle or joint pain or weakness
  • nausea
  • sleepiness or drowsiness
  • stomach pain or cramping

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • change in headache frequency
  • eye irritation, discharge, or pain
  • fainting
  • leg swelling
  • sensations of burning, heat, numbness, tightness, tingling, or warmth
  • skin rash

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain (severe)
  • heaviness, tightness, or pressure in the arms, chest, jaw, neck, or shoulder
  • irregular heartbeat
  • significantly elevated blood pressure
  • signs of an allergic reaction (shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; hives; swelling of the eyes, mouth, lips, or throat)
  • stomach pain with bloody diarrhea

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Blood pressure: Eletriptan may increase blood pressure. If you have uncontrolled high blood pressure, do not take eletriptan.

Drowsiness/reduced alertness: Eletriptan may cause dizziness or drowsiness affecting your ability to safely drive or operate machinery. Avoid these and other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.

Headache type: Eletriptan should only be used where there is a clear diagnosis of migraine headache.

Heart and blood vessel problems: This medication can cause serious heart and blood vessel problems, including heart attack, stroke, and extremely high blood pressure that requires emergency treatment. If you have heart disease or a history of heart disease, do not take eletriptan (see "Who should not take this medication?" above). Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.

It is strongly recommended that you not use eletriptan if you are at risk for, but have not been diagnosed with, heart disease, unless an examination shows that you do not have heart disease. People at risk for heart disease include those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or a strong family history of heart disease; people who smoke or are obese; women in early or natural menopause; and men over 40 years old. If you belong to one of these groups of people, your doctor may also recommend regular heart checkups while you are taking this medication.

Kidney disease: If you have decreased kidney function, doses of more than 20 mg of eletriptan daily should be avoided, as this medication may cause severe increases in blood pressure.

Liver disease: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have reduced liver function, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication. If you have severely reduced liver function, do not use eletriptan.

Medication overuse headaches: As with other pain relief medications, overuse of eletriptan may lead to medication overuse headaches, or "rebound headaches," where the headache returns as the medication wears off. Avoid taking more of this medication than is recommended by your doctor. If you experience more frequent headaches, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Seizures: There have been rare reports of seizures experienced by people taking this medication. Most of these people had a previous history of epilepsy or medical conditions that increase the risk of seizures. If you have a history of epilepsy or other condition that increases your risk of seizure, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

Serotonin syndrome: This medication may cause a rare but potentially life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome, especially when used with other medications that increase serotonin levels (e.g., fluoxetine, paroxetine, venlafaxine). Get immediate medical attention if you experience symptoms such as:

  • agitation
  • confusion
  • diarrhea
  • hallucinations
  • fast heart rate
  • fever
  • increased body temperature
  • lack of coordination
  • overactive reflexes
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking eletriptan, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children and adolescents:The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children and adolescents less than 18 years of age. Its use by this age group is not recommended.

Seniors: People over 65 years of age who take eletriptan experience a greater increase in blood pressure than younger people. Experience with eletriptan in people over 65 years of age is limited and its use is not recommended for this age group.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between eletriptan and any of the following:

  • amphetamines (e.g., dextroamphetamine, lisdexamphetamine)
  • antipsychotics (e.g., chlorpromazine, clozapine, haloperidol, olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone)
  • aprepitant
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • bromocriptine
  • buspirone
  • cabergoline
  • calcium channel blockers (e.g., amlodipine, diltiazem, nifedipine, verapamil)
  • conivaptan
  • cyclobenzaprine
  • cyclosporine
  • dasatinib
  • desvenlafaxine
  • dextromethorphan
  • ergotamine-containing or ergot-type medications (e.g., dihydroergotamine or methysergide)
  • HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs; e.g., delaviridine, efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
  • imatinib
  • linezolid
  • lithium
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • metoclopramide
  • metronidazole
  • mifepristone
  • mirtazapine
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs; e.g., moclobemide, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine)
  • nefazodone
  • norfloxacin
  • other 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (e.g., almotriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, sumatriptan, zolmitriptan)
  • selective serotonin receptor agonists (SSRIs; e.g., fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine, sertraline)
  • simeprevir
  • St. John's wort
  • tapentadol
  • tetracycline
  • tramadol
  • trazodone
  • tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, clomipramine, desipramine, trimipramine)
  • troleandomycin
  • tryptophan
  • venlafaxine

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.