Medications for Treating Migraine Attacks
Many different medications are used to treat migraines. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has specifically approved only the following types of drugs for treating migraine attacks:
- Non-prescription drugs. Excedrin Migraine, Advil Migraine, and Motrin Migraine Pain
- Prescription drugs. Triptans and ergotamine
Other types of drugs, including opioids and barbiturates, are sometimes prescribed off-label for migraine treatment. Opioids and barbiturates have not been approved by the FDA for migraine relief, and they can be addictive.
All FDA-approved migraine treatments are approved only for adults. No migraine products have officially been approved for use in children.
Some patients with mild migraines respond well to over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, particularly if they take a full dose of the medicine at the very first sign of an attack. OTC pain relievers, also called analgesics, include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, generic), naproxen (Aleve, generic), and aspirin. The FDA-approved migraine products Advil Migraine and Motrin Migraine Pain both contain ibuprofen.
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic). The FDA-approved migraine product Excedrin Migraine contains acetaminophen, as well as aspirin and caffeine.
Review Date: 11/04/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.