What Are Ditans?


Ditans are a new class of medications used for the treatment of migraines. In October 2019, the first drug in this class, lasmiditan, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat migraines with or without aura. However, this medication is not a preventive migraine medication.

Ditans are serotonin 5-HT1F agonists. They work on a specific type of serotonin receptor, the 5-HT 1F serotonin receptor. This receptor is found on nerve cells that transmit pain signals of a migraine headache. These nerve cells can be found in the brain and on the membranous coverings of the brain, specifically the dura and pia.

Unlike triptans (another class of medications commonly used to treat migraines), ditans do not constrict blood vessels; therefore, the use of ditans is safer than the use of triptans if a history of heart attack, angina, or other cardiovascular conditions exists. Ditans are also a good choice if increased risk factors for a heart attack or stroke are present and if triptans do not provide sufficient pain relief.

Lasmiditan is a controlled substance (Schedule V). It is available in dosages of 50 mg, 100 mg and 200 mg. It should be taken at the first sign that a migraine is developing and is limited to one dose in a 24-hour period even if the medication did not improve migraine symptoms.

Because lasmiditan can cause dizziness and sleepiness, driving should be avoided for at least eight hours after taking it. It should not be taken by individuals who are pregnant, possibly pregnant, or may become pregnant.

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