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Medications Approved by the FDA
for Treating Migraine


There are many medications in use for treating Migraine today. Some of them have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of Migraine; others are prescribed off-label.

Off-label prescribing is a common practice in medicine. Once a medication has been approved by the FDA for use in humans, a doctor is not restricted to prescribing it only for the condition(s) for which the FDA has approved it. Physicians may prescribe medications for other conditions if, in their judgment, they are appropriate.

Preventive Medications:
There are no medications on the market in the United States that were originally developed for Migraine prevention. All of the medications we use, including those that have been approved by the FDA, are hand-me-down medications - medications that were originally developed for other conditions.

There are four medications approved by the FDA for Migraine and headache prevention:

  • propranolol (brand name Inderal), a beta blocker;
  • timolol (brand name Blocadren), another beta blocker;
  • divalproex sodium (brand name Depakote), a neuronal stabilizing agent, aka anticonvulsant medication; and
  • topiramate (brand name Topamax), a neuronal stabilizing agent, aka anticonvulsant medication.

For a listing of medications currently being used for Migraine and headache prevention, including off-label use, see Migraine and Headache Preventives: It's Impossible to have Tried Everything!

There is one medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of chronic Migraine. Onabotulinum toxin A, brand name Botox, was approved by the FDA in 2010 for the treatment of chronic Migraine only. For more on this, see Botox Approved by FDA for Chronic Migraine.

Abortive Medications:

The triptans:

  • sumatriptan (brand names Imitrex; Sumavel; and Treximet, a combination of sumatriptan and naproxen sodium),
  • naratriptan (brand name Amerge),
  • rizatriptan (brand name Maxalt),
  • zolmitriptan (brand name Zomig),
  • eletriptan (brand name Relpax),
  • almotriptan (brand name Axert), and
  • frovatriptan (brand name Frova).


  • injectable dihydroergotamine (D.H.E.-45)
  • dihydroergotamine nasal (Migranal Nasal Spray)
  • ergotamine tartrate and caffeine tablets and suppositories (brand names Cafergot, Migergot)
  • ergotamine tartrate sublingual tablets (brand name Ergomar)


  • Midrin: a compound of isometheptene mucate, dichloralphenazone, and acetaminophen. The original brand name has been discontinued. All but one equivalent products have been removed from the market as of 3/11/12. The remaining product is produced by Macoven Pharmaceutical of Magnolia, Texas. It is uncertain whether this product will remain on the market.

Rescue Medications:
Rescue medications are used in cases where abortive medications cannot be used or when abortive medications have failed.

  • diclofenac potassium for oral solution (brand name Cambia)

For more information on preventive, abortive, and rescue medications and the differences between them, see Types of Migraine Medications: Preventive, Abortive, Rescue.


Medical review by John Claude Krusz, PhD, MD


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Teri Robert, 2012. Last updated March 11, 2012.


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The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.


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