Relpax (Eletriptan) - Oral

What Is Relpax?

Relpax (eletriptan) is used for the acute treatment of migraine headaches, with or without aura, in adults. It belongs to a drug class called serotonin agonists (which increase serotonin in the brain). It is also known as a "triptan."

Relpax works by shrinking or narrowing enlarged blood vessels around the brain that may be causing a migraine. It is only available with a prescription and as a tablet.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Eletriptan

Brand Name(s): Relpax

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Serotonin agonist

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Administration Route: Oral

Active Ingredient: Eletriptan

Dosage Form(s): Tablet

What Is Relpax Used For?

Relpax (eletriptan) treats moderate to severe acute migraines, with or without aura in adults. Migraine is a neurological disorder characterized by disabling headaches, including other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, pain, or light and sound sensitivity. Migraine affects more women than men and may be triggered by certain factors, including foods like:

How to Take Relpax

Take one tablet by mouth with or without food (maximum 40 milligrams per dose) at the first sign of onset migraine headache. If your headache does not get better or returns, wait for at least two hours, then repeat the dose. Do not take more than two tablets (maximum 80 milligrams per 24 hours) daily.

Do not use Relpax within 24 hours of taking another triptan or an ergotamine preparation.

Do not use more than 10 tablets per month to avoid medication overuse headaches. Speak to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about the frequency of your migraine episodes.

Only use this medicine for acute migraine headaches and not for preventing headaches.

Storage

Store at room temperature (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit [F]) in a dry place. Do not store it in your bathroom. Having the medicine for short periods in cool and mildly hot temperatures (59 to 86 degrees F) is OK.

Keep your medications out of the reach of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet.

Try to avoid pouring unused and expired drugs down the drain or in the toilet. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider about the best ways to dispose of this medicine.Visit the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired drugs. You can also find disposal boxes in your area. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider if you have any questions about the best ways to dispose of your medications.

If you plan to travel with Relpax, get familiar with your final destination's regulations. In general, be sure to make a copy of your Relpax prescription. If possible, keep your medication in its original container from your pharmacy with your name on the label. If you have any questions about traveling with your medicine, be sure to ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider.

How Long Does Relpax Take to Work?

Relpax is easily absorbed in the body. However, taking this medicine with a high-fat meal further increases how well it is absorbed. Once you ingest eletriptan, it takes about one and a half to two hours to peak in your system. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for any questions.

What Are the Side Effects of Relpax?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects of Relpax include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of strength and energy
  • Fatigue

Severe Side Effects

Relpax can cause many side effects. Some may be life-threatening. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you have a medical emergency. Severe side effects include:

  • Heaviness or tightness in legs
  • Cold sensation
  • Burning or pain in feet or toes
  • Bloody stools
  • Burning or numb feeling
  • Weight loss
  • Severe nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Severe dizziness
  • Hallucination
  • Diarrhea
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Leg cramps
  • Serotonin syndrome 
  • Severe cardiac abnormalities 
  • Raynaud syndrome

Report Side Effects

Relpax may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Relpax Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For migraine headaches:
      • Adults—20 or 40 milligrams (mg) taken as a single dose. If the migraine comes back after being relieved, another dose be taken at least 2 hours after the first dose. Do not take more than 80 mg in any 24-hour period.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

The following modifications (changes) should be kept in mind when using Relpax:

Severe allergic reaction: Avoid using Relpax if you have a known allergy to it or its ingredients. Ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider for a complete list of the ingredients if you're unsure.

Pregnancy: There is limited information about the use and safety of Relpax in pregnant people. However, other preferred migraine agents may be used during pregnancy. Discuss with your healthcare provider if you plan to become pregnant or are pregnant, and weigh the benefits and risks of taking Relpax during your pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: Eletriptan is present in breast milk in low amounts and is considered compatible with breastfeeding. Talk with your healthcare provider if you plan to breastfeed, weigh the benefits and risks of taking Relpax while nursing, and the different ways available to feed your baby.

Adults over 65: Blood pressure issues may occur more frequently in older adults on Relpax than in younger adults. Hence, careful evaluation using the lowest recommended doses at first in this population is preferred to avoid problems.

Children: Relpax is not approved for use in children.

Missed Dose

This medication is taken only when necessary. Do not take more frequently than prescribed by your healthcare provider. Take at the first sign of a headache. The longer you wait, Relpax might be less effective in treating your acute migraine symptoms.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Relpax?

There is limited information about Relpax overdose. If you think you're experiencing an overdose or life-threatening symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

What Happens If I Overdose on Relpax?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Relpax, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Relpax, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This will allow your doctor to see if the medicine is working properly and to decide if you should continue to take it.

Check with your doctor if you used this medicine and your migraine did not go away, or if your migraine got worse or started occurring more often.

This medicine may cause problems if you have heart disease. If your doctor thinks you might have a problem with this medicine, he or she may want you to take your first dose in the doctor’s office or clinic.

This medicine may increase your risk of having abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, angina, or stroke. This is more likely to occur if you or a family member already has heart disease, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, if you smoke, if you are male and over 40 years of age, or if you are female and have gone through menopause. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of a heart problem, such as chest pain or discomfort, an uneven heartbeat, nausea or vomiting, pain or discomfort in the shoulders, arms, jaw, back, or neck, shortness of breath, or sweating. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of a stroke, such as confusion, difficulty with speaking, double vision, headaches, an inability to move the arms, legs, or facial muscles, an inability to speak, or slow speech.

You should not take this medicine if you have used other triptan or ergot-type migraine medicines within the past 24 hours. Some examples of triptan medicines are almotriptan (Axert®), frovatriptan (Frova®), naratriptan (Amerge®), rizatriptan (Maxalt®), sumatriptan (Imitrex®, Treximet®), or zolmitriptan (Zomig®). Some examples of ergot-type medicines are dihydroergotamine (D.H.E. 45®, Migranal®), ergotamine (Bellergal®, Cafergot®, Ergomar®, Wigraine®), or methysergide (Sansert®).

Do not use this medicine if you have taken clarithromycin (Biaxin®), itraconazole (Sporanox®), ketoconazole (Nizoral®), nefazodone (Serzone®), nelfinavir (Viracept®), ritonavir (Norvir®, Kaletra®), or troleandomycin (Tao®) in the past 72 hours.

Check with your doctor right away if you have chest discomfort, jaw or neck tightness after taking this medicine. Also, tell your doctor if you have sudden or severe abdominal or stomach pain or bloody diarrhea after using this medicine.

Make sure your doctor knows about all the other medicines you are using. Eletriptan may cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome when taken with some medicines. This includes medicines to treat depression, such as citalopram (Celexa®), duloxetine (Cymbalta®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), fluoxetine (Prozac®, Sarafem®, Symbyax®), fluvoxamine (Luvox®), olanzapine (Zyprexa®), paroxetine (Paxil®), sertraline (Zoloft®), or venlafaxine (Effexor®). Check with your doctor right away if you have agitation, confusion, diarrhea, excitement while talking that is not normal, fever, overactive reflexes, poor coordination, restlessness, shivering, sweating, trembling or shaking that you cannot control, or twitching. These could be symptoms of serotonin syndrome.

This medicine may cause serious allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth while you are using this medicine.

Using eletriptan alone or in combination with other migraine medicines for 10 or more days per month may lead to worsening of headache. You may keep a headache diary to record your headache frequency and drug use.

Check with your doctor right away if you have blurred vision, difficulty with reading, or any other change in vision while you are using this medicine. Your doctor may want you to have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor).

Some people feel drowsy or dizzy during or after a migraine, or after taking eletriptan to relieve a migraine. As long as you are feeling drowsy or dizzy, do not drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Relpax?

Avoid taking Relpax if you have a history of: 

Avoid Relpax if you have a high coronary artery disease (CAD) risk. This includes risks like:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Menopause
  • Family history of CAD
  • Men over the age of 40

What Other Medications Interact With Relpax?

Certain medications interact with Relpax and increase the risk of severe side effects, including anticholinergic side effects like dry mouth. Some of the drugs to avoid are CYP3A4 inhibitors which include:

What Medications Are Similar?

Other drugs similar to Relpax used to treat migraine headaches include:

This list includes drugs also prescribed to treat acute migraine headaches. It is NOT a list of medicines recommended to take with Relpax. You should not take these drugs together unless your healthcare provider tells you to. Ask your pharmacist or a healthcare provider if you have questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Relpax used to treat?

    Relpax is used to treat acute migraine headaches in adults.

  • What are the common side effects of Relpax?
    • Loss of strength and energy
    • Fatigue
  • How much Relpax can I take in 24 hours?

    Do not exceed one tablet (40 milligrams) per dose or two tablets (80 milligrams) in 24 hours. If you need to take a second dose after your first one, wait at least two hours before taking a second one.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Relpax?

Living with migraine can be challenging. However, taking Relpax at the first sign of a migraine headache may help to treat the acute migraine moments. While on this drug, it is best to:

  • Monitor your blood pressure and for symptoms of any heart issues, including abnormal heartbeat
  • Use this medicine properly as directed by your healthcare provider to avoid overuse headaches. Taking more of this medication (more doses or more frequently) than your healthcare provider has prescribed may worsen your headaches.

This medication does not prevent or reduce the frequency of migraine headaches. If you get a headache that is not like your typical migraine, consult your healthcare provider before using this medication.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Relpax label

  2. Xu H, Han W, Wang J, Li M. Network meta-analysis of migraine disorder treatment by NSAIDs and triptansJ Headache Pain. 2016;17(1):113. doi:10.1186/s10194-016-0703-0

  3. Gazerani P. Migraine and dietNutrients. 2020;12(6):1658. doi:10.3390/nu12061658

By Queen Buyalos, PharmD
Queen Buyalos is a pharmacist and freelance medical writer. She takes pride in advocating for cancer prevention, overall health, and mental health education. Queen enjoys counseling and educating patients about drug therapy and translating complex ideas into simple language.