"Most of us get headaches from time to time. Some are mild. Others cause throbbing pain. They can last for minutes or days. There are many different types of headaches. How you treat yours depends on which kind you have.
Ergotamine is an alpha adrenergic blocking agent with a direct stimulating effect on the smooth muscle of peripheral and cranial blood vessels and produces depression of central vasomotor centers. The compound also has the properties of serotonin antagonism. In comparison to hydrogenated ergotamine, the adrenergic blocking actions are less pronounced and vasoconstrictive actions are greater.
Caffeine, also a cranial vasoconstrictor, is added to further enhance the vasoconstrictive effect without the necessity of increasing ergotamine dosage.
Many migraine patients experience excessive nausea and vomiting during attacks, making it impossible for them to retain any oral medication. In such cases, therefore, the only practical means of medication is through the rectal route where medication may reach the cranial vessels directly, evading the splanchnic vasculature and the liver.
Interactions: Pharmacokinetic interactions (increased blood levels of ergotamine) have been reported in patients treated orally with ergotamine and macrolide antibiotics (e.g., troleandomycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin), and in patients treated orally with ergotamine and protease inhibitors (e.g. ritonavir) presumably due to inhibition of cytochrome P450 3A metabolism of ergotamine (see CONTRAINDICATIONS). Ergotamine has also been shown to be an inhibitor of cytochrome P450 3A catalyzed reactions. No pharmacokinetic interactions involving other cytochrome P450 isoenzymes are known.
Last reviewed on RxList: 9/30/2008
This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.
Additional Cafergot Information
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