Maxalt (rizatriptan) for migraines: an introduction

Maxalt for migraines became available on the U.S. market in 1998. It is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating migraine with aura or migraine without aura.

The chemical name for Maxalt is rizatriptan benzoate and there is a generic version of Maxalt, a prescription drug, available.

How Maxalt for works

Researchers believe migraines are caused by swelling blood vessels in the brain and the release of chemicals that lead to head pain and other migraine symptoms. Maxalt, like other drugs in the triptan class, is believed to offer relief by narrowing the blood vessels and decreasing the pain-causing substances.

Maxalt’s effectiveness

It is very rare that medications completely get rid of all migraine symptoms for each migraine attack. For some patients Maxalt may work quickly to decrease discomfort, while others wait a couple of hours for symptom relief. A smaller group of patients find Maxalt totally erases migraine symptoms. Maxalt’s studies show the following number of patients found the drug worked for them:

  • Quick relief within an hour : 37% to 42%
  • Relief within two hours : 60% to 78%
  • Pain completely gone in two hours : 40% to 58%
  • Pain completely gone two to 24 hours : 25%


Forms of Maxalt available to treat migraines

Maxalt comes in regular tablets for swallowing and tablets that dissolve in the mouth, which are under the name Maxalt-XLT Orally Disintegrating Tablets. Maxalt and some other migraine treatments are available in different forms to offer options beyond traditional pills so those migraine sufferers who also experience nausea and vomiting can better ingest the mediations.

Available forms and price per dose

  • Maxalt tablet 5 mg , $38
  • Maxalt tablet 10 mg , $37
  • Maxalt MLT 5 mg , $35
  • Maxalt MLT 10 mg , $35

Source for prices: Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs 2010

Most common side effects of Maxalt tablets

  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Tiredness
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling
  • Nausea

Serious side effects

Some people who take Maxalt may experience serious side effects of chest pain, tightness or pressure. If you experience this side effect, which can feel like it is spreading to the throat, neck and jaw, seek medical attention immediately. Both the heart-related and sight-related side effects are thought to be because drugs in this class cause blood vessels to contract. As with other drugs in the triptan class, there have been very rare reports of heart attack and stroke generally occurring in patients with heart disease and blood vessel disease risk factors.

Who should not take Maxalt for migraines

Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant or who are breast feeding should not take Maxalt. Also people with hemiplegic migraine or basilar migraine shouldn’t take Maxalt. People with heart disease, uncontrolled high blood pressure, circulation problems and those who have had previous strokes and smokers should not take Maxalt. This drug should not be used within 24 hours of taking another drug in the triptan class or taking an ergotamine-containing or ergot-type medications. Patients who have taken a MAO-A inhibitor, which is prescribed for depression, within two weeks should not take Maxalt.



As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These medication descriptions are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication regimen without first checking with your physician. Again, this information should in no way substitute or be mistaken for medical advice.

Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010
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