Anti-Nausea Migraine Medication Zofran Issued New FDA Warning

Last month the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new warning for anti-nausea medication Zofran.

What is Zofran?

Zofran is FDA approved for treatment of cancer-related nausea (such as nausea related to chemo or radiation treatments), but is also often prescribed for nausea experienced by migraine patients and pregnant women. Zofran belongs to a class of drugs called 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. It works by blocking the actions of serotonin. The generic version of Zofran is called Ondansetron.

What did the warning say?

In the September 2011 warning, the FDA said Zofran can cause deadly changes to patients' heart rhythms. They said the people at greatest risk of experiencing the drug's potential side effects are those who have existing heart problems.

The FDA has ordered GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of Zofran, to conduct studies to determine how severe the problem could be and who is at greatest risk. Pending those findings, the FDA has ordered a change to the product label stating the risk and recommends electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring for patients thought to be at the most risk for complications.

What should I do if I use Zofran?

If you use Zofran as a treatment for migraine-related nausea, you should discuss this new warning with your doctor. Unless you have existing heart issues, it is likely still safe for you to take the medication. But it is still important to be aware there is a certain amount of risk involved with taking this medication, as with all others. Please do not change how you have been told to use this medication by your treatment providers without discussing your options with them first.

Other options to treat nausea

Other options for treating migraine-related nausea include prescription medications Phenergan, Reglan, Compazine and Tigan. There are also popular alternative / home remedies you can explore, including peppermint or ginger tea or candies. Finally, some patients may find over-the-counter anti-emetic medications useful. These include Kaopectate and Pepto Bismol. Some over the counter antihistamines can help, too, such as Dramamine. Some people find a few sips of a carbonated lemon-lime soda helpful in calming their migraine-related nausea, too.


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