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How does Maxalt work and what is it used for?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Feb 6, 2024.

Official answer


Maxalt (rizatriptan) works by constricting the blood vessels around the brain and is used to help treat migraine headache pain that is already in process. It also helps to block nerve pain messages. Maxalt is not used to prevent a migraine headache or reduce the number of migraine headaches you may have over the long-term.

Maxalt belongs to the “triptan” class of medicines commonly used in migraine treatment. It strongly binds to serotonin receptors (5HT1B/1D) in the blood vessels and nerves of the brain. Serotonin 5-HT receptor agonists (triptans) are used early in a migraine headache to stop the migraine pain.

Maxalt is used in migraines that occur with or without aura in adults and children 6 to 17 years of age. An aura is a warning symptom that some people have before or during a migraine attack. An aura may include flashing lights or bright spots, a tingling sensation in the arms or legs, trouble talking, or hearing noises. Not everyone with a migraine has an aura.

Other migraine symptoms can include debilitating throbbing pain around the eyes and temples that can last for hours, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and a greater sensitivity to light and sound.

Does Maxalt come as a generic?

Yes, Maxalt comes in a generic or brand name option at the pharmacy. Maxalt is available as a 10-mg oral tablet or as a 10-mg orally-disintegrating tablet called Maxalt-MLT. The 5 mg tablets are available in the generic, but the brand name 5 mg tablet is no longer commercially available.

Related: Maxalt Price Guide

Prescription medications in the triptan class used to treat migraine include:

Besides oral tablets and orally-disintegrating tablets, dosing options in the triptan class also include subcutaneous (SQ) injections, prefilled pens for SQ injection, and nasal sprays or powders.

This is not all the information you need to know about Maxalt or Maxalt-MLT for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Maxalt (rizatriptan) information here, and discuss this information and questions with your doctor or other health care provider.

  • Maxalt (rizatriptan) [product information]. Merck and Co. Whitehouse Station, NJ. Revised 9/2020. Accessed Feb. 16, 2021 at

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