The TGA has recently announced that they will allow two types of triptans to be available from pharmacies from February 2021 without a prescription.
Sumatriptan (Imigran) and zolmatriptan (Zomig) will be available in small pack (maximum two tablets) without a prescription. All other triptans and the larger pack sizes you will still need a prescription for.
While this is great news for those who use triptans, giving them the capacity to get the medications they need quickly if they are out and about without their medication, there is a concern around people that do not know how triptans are to be used, and perhaps have never seen a doctor for their migraine.
Triptans are usually only effective if taken right at the beginning of the headache in a typical migraine attack. If the headache goes away and comes back in about two hours, you can take one more dose. If the first one doesn’t work, you should not take any more. And whether it works or doesn’t, you should not take more as they attack progresses.
If triptans are taken more than 10 days a month, they can cause the secondary condition of medication overuse headache.
Additionally, triptans are not recommended for people with certain types of migraine, and very few people living with migraine have received an accurate diagnosis including their subtype. People with heart conditions shouldn’t use triptans. They are also not recommended for people on SSRI anti-depressants, as triptans also work by modifying seratonin uptake.
Triptans are commonly available in other countries from pharmacies without a prescription.
If you are already using triptans and are familiar with the MOH prevention guidelines, this is a good thing. For those who are not, we urge you not to self medicate with triptans.
We also will be ask pharmacists to provide triptans with caution, and educate themselves on medication overuse headache.