Tolerability of the triptans: Clinical implications

Giuseppe Nappi, Giorgio Sandrini, Grazia Sances

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The triptans represent a relatively new class of compounds effective in the treatment of migraine. The safety and tolerability of these drugs have been extensively investigated since the first triptan (sumatriptan) became commercially available. A report on a very large population of patients tested during clinical trials and in postmarketing studies, confirms that these drugs are safe and well tolerated when correctly used. Adverse events are frequently reported, but are usually mild and only a few patients discontinue therapy because of them. These adverse events include, in particular, the so-called 'triptan symptoms' (tingling, sensation of warmth, etc.). The exact mechanism of chest symptoms reported by 20% of patients with migraine treated with triptans remains unclear, but are exceptionally related to a cardiac mechanism. CNS adverse events (i.e. somnolence) are also reported, but it is a matter of debate whether they are related to the pharmacological properties (i.e. lipophilicity) of the drug or are symptoms of the disease itself. The potential risk for drug overuse must be taken into account when the triptans are given to patients with a high frequency of migraine attacks. Clinical interaction of triptans with other drugs metabolised in the liver may theoretically influence the incidence of adverse events, but there is little evidence to support this assumption. There is no evidence of a teratogenic risk of triptans in pregnant women taking these drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalDrug Safety
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology
  • Toxicology


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