Generic Imitrex approved by the FDA

GSK has tentatively lost patent protection on two of its popular drugs: Coreg and Imitrex. Imitrex is the more profitable of the two, with 2004 sales of $1.1 billion in the US, but the loss of Coreg is substantial as well. Together the two had combined sales of almost $2 billion in 2004. 2005’s were even more impressive: $1.4 billion in the US and over $2.42 billion globally for Coreg. The announcement of the FDA’s approval of Mylan’s generic sumatriptan comes hot on the heels of Imigran (the UK name for Imitrex) going over-the-counter in that country in an effort to retain some of its sales.

Mylan will now have a mandatory 180 day monopoly on the sale of three strengths of Imitrex: 50mg, 100mg, and 150mg tablet forms thanks to the Hatch-Waxman Act that I’ve talked about before, provided GSK doesn’t pay them to not sell it so they can extend their effective patent life by another 6 months, which is certainly a possibility. Injectable and intranasal forms of Imitrex remain covered by patent, and I don’t think we’ll see Imitrex tablets going OTC in this country anytime soon.

[tags]Imitrex, GSK, Sumatriptan, medicine, pharmacy, Coreg, carvedilol[/tags]

143 thoughts on “Generic Imitrex approved by the FDA

  1. Can my doctor prescribe the generic imitrex…I have asked my local drug store Rite Aid and Walgreens and they do not carry this generic in any form…I am a long time migraine sufferer. all help on this matter will be appreciated.

  2. Generic Imitrex is not on the market in the United States, for reasons I am not clear on.

    You can’t prescribe something that doesn’t exist.

  3. Do you know when Imitrex will be available in the United States, and is it safe and legal to by it on the internet from Canadian pharmacies?

  4. Funny, my birthday is March 29th. It will be quite a celebration if it’s available!!

    Is it safe and legal to buy it on Canadian pharmacy websites?

  5. I would love to know when a generic version of Imitrex will be available as well.

    “Imitrex is the more profitable of the two, with 2004 sales of $1.1 billion in the US”

    What greedy MOFOs that’s billion with a capital B… and that was 3 years ago. I’m sure they are printing money hand over fist. I don’t know about other people but I think its outrageous that they charge so much money for Imitrex.

  6. What greedy MOFOs that’s billion with a capital B… and that was 3 years ago. I’m sure they are printing money hand over fist. I don’t know about other people but I think its outrageous that they charge so much money for Imitrex.

    Research and development is a cost the public often forgets when they whine about drug companies.

    The free market drives innovation and new drug discovery. If there is no profit incentive, no new research gets done. That means no more new drugs.

  7. I for one am dependent on Imitrex tabs 100mg and injectables for functioning and thank GOD and GSK for their development, though I suffered this year due to my insurance drastically cutting my limits. I HAVE found relief from Maxalt MLT 10mg which is much less for some of my migraines. Can one travel to the UK and buy the OTC version? IS that legal?

  8. I’m sure you could, but that would be difficult, as I think you can only buy two tabs at a time. And the dollar is pretty weak right now. (In fact, $1USD was worth less than $1CDN pretty recently. I don’t know if this is still true.)

    Thank GWB and his enormous debt spending for the war in Iraq for that one.

    You’d be better off getting them from Canada.

  9. Your explanation to John Q’s question sounds like a pat drug industry answer. Are you with the drug company?

    I certainly support R & D, without it we wouldn’t have Imitrex. But it’s been on the market for around 15 years now, when the price should be coming down, not going up.

    We, as migraine suffers are desparate for this medication. What of R & D if it’s available generically in all other countries and over the counter in Britian?

    It sounds terribly political to me, at our expense, not R & D.

  10. Are you with the drug company?


    I certainly support R & D, without it we wouldn’t have Imitrex. But it’s been on the market for around 15 years now, when the price should be coming down, not going up.

    Why? It has no off-patent competition. Where’s the incentive to lower prices when ~75% of the prescriptions in this country are filled through a third party payor?

    What of R & D if it’s available generically in all other countries and over the counter in Britian?

    What percentage of the country buys their drugs from Great Britain or somewhere else that’s not the US? Probably a tiny fraction of a percent. It’s negligible to GSK.

  11. Hi RJS & and anyone else who can help…re: number 11 question and number 12 response. “Better off getting them from Canada”. I have often wondered how one does this, besides me going to Canada. Are they generic there, too? Or, mail order and hope they are not intercepted? I hate to seem weird, but just wondering? I have heard of the bus trips elderly take, but I just don’t know how one goes about all this.

    Re: the UK, I have a friend going Sunday and she has said she will purchase Imigran for me to try but is concerned re: coming back into customs, so any ideas on how much she should try to purchase? She plans to ask the pharmacist there. I think the exchange rate when I checked this past weekend was 2 for 1 dollar…yuck, but STILL cheaper than my $50 copay for FOUR tabs (@100 mg and cutting them to last). I also add maxalt to make my pills last, as well as injections. my migraines are much worse as I near menopause, and I take pain meds with my migraine meds, too. I wonder if I am not immune to the meds and need more and more. I HATE migraines. If I didn’t have them, we would hardly ever spend money on meds. I am BREAKING my family! Thanks for help. I have to do something.

  12. When you refer to a “third party payor”, are you referring to insurance companies?

    I think it’s particularly difficult for us migrainers since someone, somewhere decided we only need 9 pills a month!

    I have petitioned my insurance company for 18 per month, but I still need more.

    There is a group:,that can assist low income people to obtain prescriptions at no cost. It was of great benefit to me until I qualified for Medicare part D prescription plan.

    The government kicks you off the program if you do. Then the Medicare plan has a “dounut hole” where after you have purchased $2,000.00 of medication, (they figure it not with the copays from insurance, but the full retail price of your prescriptions, you must then pay full retail price until you have spent $3,800. out of pocket. Oh, there is a supposed reward after that…meds for almost nothing. But you almost never reach that level in a 12 month period!

    I don’t know who thought that up, but I’m not very happy about it, along with millions of others on this plan! Imitrex is running $375.00 for me, for 18 pills on the Medicare plan while paying premiums.

    Silly me to hope for some semblance of decency from the government or the drug companies!

  13. I’m familiar with how Medicare Part D works. However, you’re actually in luck, because we’re coming to the time of year when you can change Medicare D plans.

    I suggest you use the Plan comparison tool and when it asks you to input your drugs, put in Imitrex with the number of pills per month you THINK you’ll use assuming you have no limits.

    I think I should probably write a How-To post on choosing a Medicare Part D plan. I think a lot of folks could use it.

  14. I certainly enjoyed the postings and comments about Imitrex from this group, I too am a Migraine suffer and I have to pay cash, $25/tab, Does anyone know if Generic Imitrex,”Imigran Recover” is available in Canada as an OTC as in England?

    Thank You-

  15. Here’s a very interesting thing I learned that saved me hundreds of dollars on my Imitrex.
    If you normally take 50 mg, get your dr. to prescribe 100 mg’s and cut them in half. Guess what, the cost is almost the same, so you get them for about half price!!

  16. I have been splitting my 100 mg’s in half but they are still expensive,Thanks for the comment !

  17. Regarding the reasoning that prescriptions are so expensive because of R&D…I don’t deny that and am in support…However, how much of the cost of prescriptions is the result of all of the advertising drug companies now do on TV and elsewhere. I don’t need to learn what medications I should take for what ailments. That’s why I go to the doctor. If drug companies stopped advertisting, I suspect the cost of drugs would come down (but so would their profit margin…and there in lies the rub).

  18. Today I ordered Imigran, same tablet exactly , made by the same company making Immitrex.Glaxo – .. I found the compnay on the internet. I wanted to be certain that I bought the real thing, not a generic made by who knows what phamaceudical company who knows where.. It was shipped out from England. the cost is 16 tablets for 82.00 instead of 9 tablets for 265.00 (from CVS or Rite Aid at home…… both are rediculous, but until my insurance kicks in again at the start of the year, I will at least save some money. It is ludicrous to pay 25.00 a pill for something that actually costs .10 to produce. But for thouse of us in need, we have no choice, so I paid 5.00 instead of 25.00.

  19. by the way, I also often cut the 50’s in half, but everything I read from the manufacturer says it is not safe to cut them in half..they have a coating that prevents them from damaging the wall of the intestine… I also have been cutting them in half, but I no longer plan to do that.
    Has anyone asked their Doctor about it.? Like to hear their take.. why not cut them in half?

  20. Hi,

    My physician told me to cut the 100’s in half. I do not know what the true reason is for not doing so. I would like to interject that I quit smoking years ago and cut the higher mg patches in half to save money. The instructions say not to, but there is no special layering or coatings visible. Worked for me. I hope that helps someone else save some money. Also, I used them longer than the instructions and I managed to quit. I just didn’t have to rush and conform to the 14 or 21 day regimen. That took a bit of the stress and pressure off.

  21. I would like to know how those mail order generic Imitrex worked out for Bobbi as far as quality and if she wanted to share the internet pharma info, I’ve always cut my 100mg and the only thing it does is that it knocks out my headache, no upset stomach.

  22. Hi – Gary, I do cut them, 25 mg works for me… but product info says not to. That is why they are in triangles I guess…

    I ordered Imigran,(which is the naem for Imitrex in the rest of the world) produced by Glaxo (NOT a generic ) It is the the same product colored and shaped differently. Many Canadian companies DO produce the generic (actually called SUMATRIPTAN) not yet offered in the US due to Strong $$$ pharaceutical lobbies, & $$ greedy companies.. Just researched and took a chance and paid $82.00 shipped… for 16 tablets – 50 mg.instead of my local CVS, Rite Aid charging me $265.00 for 9- 50mg. tablets I have friends going to Mexico over christmas and I will ask them to look for it OTC. Goo dlUck..anxious to hear your results also. I should have it by mid December..and they did not need a prescription. In canada, even for the generic, you have to send one.

  23. AMR, I applaud your reference to the TV commericals. My husband was in advertising and years ago it cost over a million dollars to make a commercial and hundreds of thousands of dollars for each time they appeared!!!! I find that because of them doctors are getting lazy. They should be the only ones prescribing the meds, but I’ve had them ask me, “Why didn’t you ask me for that drug?”

    I have not objection to R & D, but just count how many drug spots there are in any given night, prime time!

    As for cutting the Imitrex, one legitimate concern is that the drug isn’t evenly distributed throughout the tablet. Have you noticed that sometimes a half doesn’t do the job? Perhaps because you didn’t get enough of the medication in the half?

    I’m doing a new program called the migraine cure. They base the cure on the belief that hormones are the cause, or lack there of. It isn’t cheap, they put you on a lot of supplements, and bio-identical hormones, that have no dangerous side effects, but I have found a 50% improvement, from daily migraines. Check out the website. There is also a book. They are great people and I’m hopeful it will work.

  24. I researched the doctores who wrote the Migrane Cure.. and live near the one in Cleveland. Is it better to read the book before calling him? I wonder if he also works in conjunction with local neurologists. …or should I ask her if she is familiar with his work. She started me on botox shots and I hated them… they disturbed other nerves in my face..and I couldn’t wait for them to disapate.

    In the meantime, does anyone know what countries in Europe sell Imigran,,, or how to reasearch them. . The dollar is high, but it could still be worthwhile, and cheaper than the Imigran I ordered on line from London. I people whpo are always traveling back and forth. Thanks.

  25. I cut the 100s in half. I have never had an experience where it didn’t do the job. Several years ago I started out with the 100s but got to the point where 50s were doing the job. In the beginning I was taking 100mg every day. I get grief from my doctor for taking so much, but I tried the Topamax but that was a fizzle. So I get the 100s, cut them in half, get twice the presciption, and it looks like my consumption is lower.

    Bobbi, thanks for the link. I am giving it a shot too. One of my greatest fears is not having a sufficient supply. For some reason, my doctor thinks I shouldn’t take as much as I do. Probably because of the grief he gets from my insurance company bean counters. When I get them in 7-14 days it’ll be the first time I’ll want a migraine so I can test them out. Again, thanks.

    Anyone, I am told there should be no side effects with Imitrex. However, with 100mg I experience joint and muscle pain, and stiffness for approx 4-6 hours. My doctor says that the medicine is metabolized within 20 minutes and there should be no residual effects, yet there are. Anyone have something similar to share? Thanks.

  26. Bobbi, I’m excited for you that you live near the Migraine Cure offices!!! I believe Dr. Rozakis is in that office and he’s terrific.

    I can tell you that the book helps answer a lot of questions. It really gives incredible information. I honestly have never read anywhere else more accurate and complete information regarding what I’ve gone through with these migraines! I cried through the book because they nailed it and offered hope.

    I have had migraines all my life and the last 5 years from daily to every other day. All the doctors said they just didn’t know what to do for me. The program has cut my migraines less than half in 3 months and I have now gone a full week this week with only one. I’m very hopeful. They want your doctor on board with the process.

    As for side effects Peter, I know ones to be concerned about are a tightening in your chest and throat. I get pretty hammered from them. I do know that the program addresses joint and muscle pain from imbalanced hormones, which they believe is the cause of the migraines.

  27. Hi Ellen, Please let’s share notes when the Imigran arrives… I sent them to Fla, where I’ll be in 7 days..but as soon as we get them, we’ll share notes..
    Someone asked about side effects with Imitrex? I have been taking it for at lease 15 years..even before the tablet was available..(I remeber friends buying the tablets form me out of the country even then..) I hated to take the shots..but my headaches were intolerable. Often my Dr friend came over to inject me..and sometimes I was able to do it. The side effects were tightening in the jaw.. tough chewing when I first would eat after taking drug..and a tightening around the back of the neck… With the tablet, 50 or 25, I have no side effects at all..and if I take them at the first sign (and everyone shoud be aware of early signs of a migraine coming) the benefit is enormous.. If I wait it out a while..too busy, etc. then the migraine is intense and takes MUCH longer to ease up. But for sure, I am never without them…!!

    I understand the Mylan makes Imigran sold in Canada..Does anyone know about it? I could find nothing on Mylan’s site. Bobbi

  28. I am very thankful that I don’t have the severity of Migraines as some on the board, I get them every 3 weeks, I keep a log. I was diagnois with Vascular Migraines by a young doctor right out his internship,He is a saint!! I had been suffering from what other doctors told me was a sinus condition and every sinus medication I took was absolutely no help all these years. I know when a migraine comes is when I get these wavy blimps across my eyes. Sometimes I don’t take my Imitrex because of the expense and just ride it out, I have never had any side effects from Imitrex as described before on this forum. Thanks,Gary

  29. Migraines run in my family – grandma, dad, sister, me, daughter . . . My dad swears by Maxalt, but I’ve used Imitrex and have had good results. My prescribing doctor wouldn’t give me 50mg tablets, but said cutting the 100mg in half wouldn’t be a problem. So that’s what I’ve done. Maybe I’m cynical, but I think the triangluar shape of the tablet is to make cutting it more difficult – the more 100mg tablets cut, the fewer are purchased, and that means less $$ for the drug co. If taking them whole was truely important, wouldn’t the drug info tell you why? On another train of thought, I found “MigRelief” and used it for a while – high doses of vitamin B2 and magnesium. Both myself and my dad have had really good results. It’s a 2x daily supplement and runs about $20 a month (cheaper on ebay). I’d still be taking it now except I’m pregnant. Thankfully, my migraines are few and far between when I’m pregnant.

  30. Hi Promised I would share this info.. Recieved my Imigran from UK… Came on the date expected..
    16 50 MG tablets for 82.00 (including shipping) and they were oval so I can easily cut them in half.
    By the way, I have had to take them twice..and they worked just fine in helping my migraine.

    Wish I knew someone traveing to the UK.

    I don’t know any thing about the company..just researched on line.. and am not advertsing for them, don’t know them, only sharing my info. I took a chance. IT comes in the Imigran box (not a generic) and is made by Glaxo Kline in New Zealand.

    Just can’t pay local prices of $262.00 for 9 tablets… Good Luck I hope this helps you all.

  31. I also followed the lead on Bobbi’s research and ordered the 16 50mg tablets for $82.00 from They arrived as promised. I have taken 3 so far and have had the hoped for results. I wish to extend my thanks to Bobbi for the information provided and hope that others will benefit from it also. I have no affiliation with the web site listed or Bobbi for that matter. I just thought it was worth the chance to find a reasonably priced and available substitute for my current prescription. It has turned out to be so.

  32. I did a background check on this company with my credit card provider and they are legitimate ! What a way to start the New Year ! Thanks Bobbi ! I think you said that you were in Florida and I’m headed that way New Years Day also to North Palm Beach with a song in the air and a skip to my step !

  33. Gary, Have a wonderful New Years down here.. West Palm will be hopping.. we are gong to try to get to City Place.. Weather has been in the 80’s… Stay healthy..and headache free.
    Did you know that Imigran is OTC in the UK? Bobbi

  34. I’ve been taking Imitrex since 1993….I “bite” the 100 mg tablets in 3rds……no problems. Thankfully insurance covers all but $25.00 for me for 9. Sure hope the generic shows up as promised. To all my fellow suffers’s out there.. I sympathize! R&D my A –!!!

  35. I saw a neurologist in November 2005 for what I thought was migraines – until I started also having jaw pain in April 2006, and was then treated by a dentist for TMJ. TMJ symptoms mimic migraines – I also have the sensitivity to light and sound – and the imitrex is the only thing that takes away the pain. Sometimes I take as little as two a month, and other months I’ve taken 6 or 8. I no longer have insurance and can’t pay over $200 for 9 pills. I absolutely will be ordering from inhousepharmacy, and am so thankful to the person who shared their website (and the people who posted their experience ordering from them as well). It will be wonderful not to have to pay a doctor just to write a prescription!

  36. Hi – I have done some more research on less costly Imitrex, generic, Please someone who is a good researcher check out – They are in India and sell the generic Imitrex for 25 mg. 1.15 a tablet, rapid release, and the 50 mg at $2.01. They say they use Sun Pharma, and Cooper Pharma manufacturers, .. (but they can also change the suppliers) They do give a phone number to reach them, but they didn’t answer at 8 AM EST… ANy one else who can find out more? Please write to me directly if you would at… Thanks so much . Happy and Healthy New YEar. Bobbi

  37. In communicating further with in India, they offer to send samples to me, and all my friends so we can check out the product… which doesn’t mean they cant switch it later. And how do we “check it out?” I found that interesting. Of course, Glaxo gives HUGE amounts samples to the doctors to promote the product earning them BILLIONS…. Mine gave me 10 tablets when I told her I was out of prescription coverage at the end of the year.. Imagine how much Imitrex ( at 30.00 a tablet in the stores” Glaxo “gives away’ to doctors nation wide. Probably costs them pennies…Bobbi

  38. Just got a note from ALLDAYCHEMIST that they have sent me a sample of generic imitrex…. Now I need advise as to how to check out the product contents of the sample… Any ideas? Has anyone else checked out their site, or requested a sample? Bobbi

  39. I have been ordering my generic Imitrex through a company based in Oregon and the drug is mailed from India. I did have to send them a copy of my prescription first (they’ll accept a copy of the refill label). At first I ordered the 100 mg but their price went up afterward so now I buy the 50 mg. They work just fine. The cost is $105 for 30 pills including shipping. The pills are oval and crumble a bit if cut in half but I still do it when needed. I just received my third order and find them safe to take.
    Their website is:

  40. Steve L: Please email to me directly at I also have been in touch with a company in India (see above) directly.. for $2.0 a table. In fact they are sending me some samples. What does the label on your Generic say? Is there a name of the manufacturer. My connection in Inda mentions Sun Pharma, and Cooper Pharma as the manufactureres… but, I am still a little wary. Look forward to hearing from you. Pretty soon we wil have enough alternatives that are affordable.

    By the way everyne…I took the hint to BITE the pills in half and it works much better than a knife..a little bitter though, but doable.. BObbi

  41. I had been taking Relpax and it was only moderately effective and very expensive even with insurance ($45 for 6 tablets). Last month I went to a new neurologist who changed me over to Imitrex tablets. He said that research has shown Imitrex (100mg.) is more effective if taken with 3 Aleves and caffeine (I drink diet Mt. Dew). It works great. He said Imitrex tablets are going generic, but GSK is coming out with a new patented Imitrex which is just Imitrex and naproxen sodium (Alleve) combined.

  42. This is all fine and good for you lucky people who can survive on the pill forms of Imitrex. I unfortunately have progressed to where the pills are only effective about 35% of the time and am very dependant on the injection form. 9 pills vs 2 shots for the same co-pay bytes at $40.00 a pop. I am seeing a new neurologist as my migraines have been coming in cycles of about 10 to 15 in a month for the last two months. Wish me luck…

  43. Migraines, ugh!

    Found your website by accident, tried to email Bobbi, but her email address didn’t work,

    Generic Imitrex–

    From–yes they are fine, they work, use 100’s, cut them in half with the only pill splitter that I found that works, from WalMart, of all places. I think it works because the surface that holds the tablet is soft. My doc, who is also a migraine sufferer says cutting in half is OK.

    Imitrex only works for me when taken with another pain killer, usually fioricet, but sometimes just aleve does it.


    Generic also available from Canadadrugpharmacy. Also not a problem and much cheaper than the name brand.
    This one comes from India so it takes forever to arrive, so you have to leave a few weeks to receive it. The imitrex is delivered in a short time.

    All kinds of other ways to treat my migraines but not a lot of time now:

    no msg or tannins, sleeping on a wedge pillow with ice, eating meat grown without hormones, all of this every day

    And still, sometimes the migraine monster sneaks in.

    Hope some of this helps someone.

  44. GSK should be damned for what its doing to keep generic Imitrex off the market; generic should have been available long ago. A note to other migraine sufferers… I found I was allergic to msg. By removing that from my diet migraines decreased from 1/day to perhaps 2-3/month. MSG is in most processed foods, trouble is its not always listed as msg, but also maltodextrin, carregenan, autolyzed anything..msg labeling is another conspiracy!!

  45. GSK should be damned for what its doing to keep generic Imitrex off the market; generic should have been available long ago. A note to other migraine sufferers… I found I was allergic to msg. By removing that from my diet migraines decreased from 1/day to perhaps 2-3/month. MSG is in most processed foods, trouble is its not always listed as msg, but also maltodextrin, carregenan, autolyzed anything..msg labeling is another conspiracy!!

    GSK has done nothing underhanded to keep a generic Imitrex off the market. Imitrex is still protected by patent, and GSK hasn’t sued anyone to keep it that way.

    Just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it a conspiracy — it just makes you look like a raving lunatic.

  46. Stop ranting and raving about GSK and their use of the US patent laws. What they are doing might be immoral, but it is not illegal. As I said in a former post, you can obtain generic Imitrex from Canada until GSK’s patent runs out.

    Also, “allergies” to msg don’t even scratch the surface. Start doing some research.

    MSG is lurking all over and it is a trigger for many migraine sufferers. I have found some really innocent-sounding foods to be culprits: gelatin, yogurt, even capsules containing medication…the msg list goes on.

    Add the tannin list: red wine, red almost anything (tomatoes, berries, apple skins), annato (the yellow food coloring that seems to be ubiquitous), tea, vinegar, malted barley flour, that list continues…

    Migraines are a curse and Imitrex has been necessary for me for survival for more years than I want to remember, although never alone, but in combination with a pain reliever. Now that I have found the generic from Canada, I can save some money for a short time.

    We all have to help ourselves. We cannot just take a little information from the surface and blame someone else.

    I feel like I am on the same soapbox to which I ascend when involved in a political argument. It pays to become an intelligent consumer.

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