Sumavel for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

Sumavel DosePro is the injection form of sumatriptan, the active ingredient in Imitrex for migraines. It is in the triptan class of medications.

The injection doesn’t need a needle, but uses a burst of gas to shoot the drug underneath the skin.

Sumavel DosePro is for treating adults with acute migraines and cluster headaches. It is not approved for preventing migraines, for preventing other types of headaches or for treating other types of headaches.

Why an injection

Many people who suffer from migraines also experience nausea and vomiting, this makes it difficult to swallow and digest pills. The injection doesn’t require swallowing the medication so that the medicine won’t be vomited. Also, migraine attacks can arise quickly. Injected medication gets into the body quicker than drugs that are taken by mouth and digested in the stomach. Sumavel DosePro’s manufacturer says some people feel relief from migraine symptoms within 10 minutes, with most feeling better in two hours.

How the medicine in Sumavel DosePro works

The active ingredient in Sumavel DosePro, sumatriptan, works by narrowing the blood vessels in the brainstem. It also reduces substances that can trigger migraine symptoms of head pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sensitivity to sound, and other bothersome symptoms. the medication works best if it is taken as soon as migraine symptoms appear. It will only treat a headache that has started. It will not prevent a migraine attack or reduce the number of attacks you have.

How to inject Sumavel DosePro

  • Sumavel DosePro comes in a pre-filled, single-use unit
  • The tip must be snapped off
  • A green lever is pressed down until it clicks
  • Inject directly into dry skin
  • Pinch two inches of the skin of the stomach or thigh
  • Inject straight into the skin, not at an angle
  • You will hear a short burst of air indicating the medicine has been administered
  • A small amount of blood may be seen at the injection site
  • Do not inject near scars, moles or within two inches of the navel (belly button)
  • Do not inject or deliver into the same location each time
  • The injection unit shouldn’t be pointed toward the face or eyes
  • Do not inject through the clothing
  • Do not inject into the arm

Do not take Sumavel DosePro if you have:

  • Heart disease or history of heart disease
  • Taken another drug in the triptan class or a drug containing ergotamine in the last 24 hours
  • Had a an allergic reaction to sumatriptan
  • Narrowing of blood vessels in the legs, arms, stomach or kidney
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Basilar migraine, or migraines that cause temporary paralysis
  • Previous stroke, TIA (transient ischemic attacks, also called mini strokes)
  • Problems with blood circulation

Tell your doctor before taking Sumavel DosePro if you have heart disease or family history of heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol, diabetes or if you’ve gone through menopause.

Before taking this medicine, you should definitely let your doctor know if you’re pregnant, nursing or could become pregnant.

Also let your doctor know if you smoke, have epilepsy or seizures.

It is very important to tell your doctor if you take SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), SNRIs (serotonin—norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) or MAOIs (monoamine oxidase-A inhibitors). A life-threatening side effect may occur if Sumavel DosePro is used with antidepressants.

Price per dose

Sumavel needless injection 6 mg $129

Source for prices: Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs 2010

Your doctor will help you determine if Sumavel DosePro is best for you. Writing down all information related to your migraine attacks in your migraine journal will help you and your doctor manage the condition. Also write down when you take medications and how well they work.

Possible serious side effects of Sumavel DosePro

Sumavel DosePro’s packaging information warns that it can cause serious side effects, including death. Possible side effects include:

  • Heart attack
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Changes in mood, such as agitation, hallucinations or coma
  • Tightening muscles
  • Difficulty walking
  • Changes in the color or sensation in the fingers or toes
  • Decreased blood flow in the extremities or intestines

You should get medical attention right away if you experience severe tightness, pain, pressure or heavy feelings in your chest, throat, neck or jaw. Also seek medical attention if you feel shortness of breath, wheezing, sudden or severe stomach pain, hives, swelling in the tongue, mouth or throat, high temperature, difficulty seeing, unusual weakness or numbness, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea or unusual sweating.



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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