What is sumatriptan nasal powder? How does it work (mechanism of action)?

Sumatriptan is a drug that is used for treating migraine headaches. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin receptor agonists.

Other medications in this drug class include:

Migraine headaches are believed to result from dilatation of blood vessels in the brain. Sumatriptan relieves a migraine by stimulating serotonin receptors in the brain, which cause the muscles surrounding the blood vessels in the brain to contract and narrow the blood vessels. At the same time, also it reduces transmission of pain signals by nerves to the brain. While it is very effective in relieving migraine headaches, it does not prevent or reduce the number of headaches. This drug is not used for treatment of other types of headache pain.

  • The FDA approved sumatriptan inhalation powder (Onzetra Xsail) in January, 2016.
  • The brand name for sumatriptan inhalation powder is Onzetra Xsail.
  • sumatriptan inhalation powder is not available in generic form.
  • You need a prescription to obtain sumatriptan inhalation powder.

What is sumatriptan nasal powder used for?

Sumatriptan nasal powder is used for the acute treatment of migraine headaches with or without an aura in adults.

What is the dosage for sumatriptan nasal powder?

  • The recommended dosage for this drug is 2 nosepieces (22 mg) administered using the Xsail breath-powered delivery device.
  • Two additional nosepieces may be used after 2 hours if the migraine headache has not resolved, or returns after some improvement.
  • The maximum dose over a 24 hour period is 2 doses (44 mg or 4 nosepieces) or 1 dose of sumatriptan inhalation powder and 1 dose of another sumatriptan product, separated by at least 2 hours.


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Which drugs or supplements interact with sumatriptan nasal powder?

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Is sumatriptan nasal powder safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

  • Safe use of sumatriptan while pregnant has not been established.
  • Sumatriptan is excreted in breast milk. Infant exposure may be reduced by avoiding breastfeeding for 12 hours after administration of sumatriptan.

What else should you know about sumatriptan nasal powder?

What preparations of sumatriptan nasal powder are available?
  • Intranasal powder: 11 mg (capsule in disposable nosepiece)

Sumatriptan is available in the following forms:

  • intranasal powder (Onzetra Xsail)
  • intranasal spray (Imitrex Intranasal): 5mg, 20mg
  • injection (Imitrex, Imitrex StatDose): 4 and 6mg/.05ml
  • trandermal patch (Zecuity): 86 mg (6.5 over 4 hours)
  • tablets: 25mg, 50mg, 100mg
How should I keep sumatriptan nasal powder stored?
  • Sumatriptan intranasal powder should be stored at room temperature, between 20 C and 25 C (68 F and 77 F).
  • The nosepiece should be used immediately after removing it from the foil pouch.


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Medically Reviewed on 11/29/2019


FDA Prescribing Information.