Alsuma (sumatriptan injection) for migraines: an introduction

Alsuma (sumatriptan injection 6mg/0.5mL) was approved in June of 2010. Alsuma is indicated for the acute treatment of migraine, with or without aura, as well as the acute treatment of cluster headaches.

Alsuma belongs to the triptan class of medications and there is no generic substitute available.

How Alsuma for migraines works

As with other triptans, Alsuma works by narrowing the blood vessels in the brainstem and may help with migraine symptoms including head pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to sound. Triptans works best if they are taken as soon as migraine symptoms appear. Medications indicated for acute treatment cannot be taken to prevent the onset of a migraine attack.

Alsuma effectiveness

In two well controlled studies including over 1,000 patients with moderate to severe migraines, 70% of people saw a reduction in head pain within one hour. A larger percent (82%) of patients in the study experienced reduction in head pain within two hours. In clinical studies, Alsuma also helped with other migraine symptoms including photophobia, phonophobia, nausea, and vomiting.

Forms of Alsuma available to treat migraines

Alsuma is provided as a pre-filled single-use auto-injector. Each dose contains 6mg of sumatriptan. The injector is fully assembled for use.

Most common Alsuma side effects

  • Reaction at the injection site
  • Tingling, warm or burning sensations
  • Feeling of heaviness
  • Feeling sensitive to pressure
  • Feeling warm or cold
  • Tightness, pain, pressure or heaviness in the chest, neck, hand, or jaw areas
  • Dizziness, vertigo, difficulty keeping balance
  • Feeling weak, tired and/or drowsy, which might be related to halting the migraine attack

Serious side effects

Some people may experience serious side effects with sumatriptan. If you experience chest pain, tightness or pressure which feels like it is spreading to the neck and jaw, seek medical attention immediately. Rarely, people may experience temporary or permanent loss of vision. It is believed that the heart and sight related side effects occur with this class of medications because they cause blood vessels to contract.

Who should not take Alsuma for migraines

Because sumatriptan may raise blood pressure, people who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, hypertension, or other cardiovascular disease should not take this type of mediation. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking other antidepressants as your dose may need to be altered to avoid serious side effects. You should also tell your doctor if you smoke, have a strong family history of heart disease, are pregnant or nursing.

Alsuma should not be given to patients who suffer from hemiplegic migraine or basilar migraine. Sumatriptan isn’t recommended for elderly patients and safety in children under 18 has not been assessed.

Do not take Alsuma within 24 hours of of any ergotamine-containing or ergot-type medication or another 5-HT1 agonist (another triptan).