Throbbing pain, nausea, and intense sensitivity to light and sound: people who suffer from migraine headaches are all too familiar with these symptoms. Frovatriptan is a medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acute treatment of migraine attacks with or without "aura" in adults.
Frovatriptan belongs to the triptan class of drugs. Other triptans are currently used to treat migraine headaches as well. However, frovatriptan has a 26 hours half-life which is much longer than the other triptans. This means that frovatriptan stays in the bloodstream longer than the other drugs. However, this does not mean that frovatriptan works better than other triptans, just that it may be taken less often or last longer.
The theory regarding the origins of a migraine headache has been debated for years. One explanation is neurovascular theory, which suggests that headache is a result of activation of the trigeminal nerve, one of the cranial nerves. Some experts believe that the headache is related to sudden widening of blood vessels. Frovatriptan may work by constricting the blood vessels in the brain that cause the migraine headache. However, the precise mechanism of action is not established.
Frovatriptan tablets should be taken with fluids as soon as a migraine hits. If the headache comes back after initial relief, after 2 hours, a second dose can be taken. Do not take more than 3 tablets in 24 hours.
Four clinical trials examined the effects of frovatriptan on migraine pain. In all 4 studies, the percentage of people reporting some relief of headache pain within 2 hours of taking the medication was greater in the group receiving 2.5 mg of frovatriptan than in the group given the placebo. In addition, less than half of people taking frovatriptan needed additional medication (such as aspirin) to help stop the pain.
Frovatriptan appears to have a low incidence of side effects. These may include:
- Tingling or prickling sensation
- Dry mouth
- Hot or cold sensation
- Chest pain
- Skeletal pain
People with certain conditions should not take frovatriptan; these include people with:
A life-threatening condition called serotonin syndrome can happen when triptans, such as frovatriptan, and medications used to treat depression, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), are used together. If you are taking SSRIs, make sure you let your doctor know.
Signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome include the following:
- Loss of coordination
- Fast heart beat
- Increased body temperature
- Fast changes in blood pressure
- Overactive reflexes
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Frovatriptan. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Frova. Migraine Awareness Group website. Available at: http://www.migraines.org/treatment/profrova.htm. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Migraine. National Headache Foundation website. Available at: http://www.headaches.org/education/Headache_Topic_Sheets/Migraine. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Migraine—treatment of acute attacks. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 10, 2014. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Serotonin syndrome. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 16, 2012. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Triptans. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 27, 2014. Accessed July 16, 2014.
Last reviewed July 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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