Sumatriptan (injection)

Sounds like 'soo-ma-trip-tan'

Key points about sumatriptan injection

  • Sumatriptan is used to ease the symptoms of migraine or cluster headaches.
  • Sumatriptan injection is also called Imigran.
  • From 1 November 2023, there will be a brand change – Clustran injection will be replacing Imigran injection.
  • It’s important to know how to use your sumatriptan injection before you get a migraine or headache. See below for videos on how to use Imigran injection and Clustran injection.

 

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Sumatriptan is used to ease the symptoms of migraine or cluster headaches. It works by releasing a natural chemical called serotonin, which causes the blood vessels around your brain to contract (narrow). This reverses the dilating (widening) of blood vessels that's believed to be part of the headache process. 

Sumatriptan only works when a migraine attack has already begun. It won't prevent a migraine. Don't take it before your headache begins, or during the aura phase, as it may be less effective. Read more about migraine headaches.

Brand change

In Aotearoa New Zealand, sumatriptan is available as an injection and tablets. The information on this page is about sumatriptan injection. Read more about sumatriptan tablets.

Note: From 1 November 2023, there will be a brand change. Clustran injection will be replacing Imigran injection. Find out more about the brand change.

Always use sumatriptan exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much to use, how often to use it and any special instructions. Here is some guidance.

  • Inject a single injection (6mg) at the start of the migraine attack. It should work within 10 to 15 minutes.
  • If your migraine improves at first but comes back, wait at least 1 hour before giving yourself another injection (6mg).
  • Don't use more than 2 injections (12mg) in 24 hours.
  • If the first sumatriptan dose doesn't relieve or help your migraine, don't take another sumatriptan dose for this same attack. as it's unlikely to work.

Monthly limit – don't use sumatriptan for more than 10 days per month.

Using sumatriptan too often can cause a medication overuse headache or rebound headache. This headache is caused by overuse of pain relief medicines including sumatriptan.

The symptoms include a tension-type headache or migraine-like attack. These overuse headaches often improve within 7 to 10 days after sumatriptan has been stopped. Symptoms may be worse before an improvement is seen. To avoid this, don't use sumatriptan for more than 10 days per month.

It’s important to know how to use your sumatriptan injection before you get a migraine or headache

Read the information leaflet from inside the injection pack. You can also ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist to show you how to use the sumatriptan autoinjector device. Here is a video describing how to use your sumatriptan autoinjector.

Video: How to use your Imigran autoinjector

(Healthify He Puna Waiora, NZ, 2021)

Here's a video describing how to use your Clustran injection pen in English.

Video: How to use your Clustran injection (English)

(Healthify He Puna Waiora and PHARMAC, NZ, 2023)

Here's a video describing how to use your Clustran injection pen in te reo Māori.

Video: Te whakamahi i te pene (te reo Māori)

(Healthify He Puna Waiora and PHARMAC, NZ, 2023)

Timing

Sumatriptan injection usually starts to work within 10 to 15 minutes after the injection is given. Use sumatriptan injection when the migraine headache begins or when other symptoms of the migraine headache begin. These symptoms may be nausea (feeling sick), vomiting or your eyes becoming sensitive to light. If you use your injection later during the migraine attack it will still work for you. Do not use sumatriptan injection before the above symptoms occur.

Inject sumatriptan just under the skin, in the side of your thigh

Don't inject into areas where the skin is tender, bruised, red, or hard. Don't rub the injection site. If you notice a spot of blood at the injection site, dab it away with a cotton ball or tissues. If needed, you may cover the injection site with a bandage.

Here are some things to know when you're taking sumatriptan. Other things may be important as well, so ask your healthcare provider what you should know about.

  • If you become pregnant or you're breastfeeding talk to your doctor immediately.
  • Let your doctor know about other medical conditions you have, and if you have ever had a seizure.
  • Don't give sumatriptan to anyone else even if they also have migraines.
  • Don't throw used injection devices in the normal household rubbish. Talk to your pharmacist about how to dispose (get rid) of them.
  • Sumatriptan may interact with other medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting sumatriptan or before starting any new medicines.

Like all medicines, sumatriptan can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sleepy
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Be careful when driving or using tools until you know how this medicine affects you. Don't drink alcohol.
  • Feeling sick or vomiting
  • This may be due to the migraine attack.
  • Avoid eating until this feeling passes.
  • Tell your doctor if this bothers you.
  • Pain, or redness at the injection site
  • Change the injection site.
  • Tell your doctor if these side effects bother you.
  • Pain, or tightness in your chest, jaw or throat
  • If the pain is intense or doesn't go away tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of serotonin syndrome such as feeling agitated and restless, heavy sweating, shivering, fast heart rate or irregular heartbeat, headache, diarrhoea (runny poos) and rigid or twitching muscles
  • You are at increased risk of serotonin syndrome if you recently started taking sumatriptan, recently increased the dose or if you are taking other medicines that can cause serotonin syndrome.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a medicine side effect to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.(external link)

The following links have more information on sumatriptan.

Sumatriptan(external link) NZ Formulary
Imigran injection(external link) Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet, NZ

References

  1. Treatment of acute migraine(external link) NZ Formulary
  2. Diagnosing and managing headache in adults in primary care(external link) BPAC, NZ, 2017 
  3. The role of triptans in the treatment of migraine in adults(external link) BPAC, NZ, 2014

Sumatriptan injection factsheet
Healthify NZ, 2023

English
Te reo Māori
Samoan
Tongan

5 questions to ask about your medications
Health Quality and Safety Commission, NZ, 2019

English
Te reo Māori

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Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist, Healthify He Puna Waiora. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

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