Consumer medicine information

Deseril ®

methysergide maleate

Consumer Medicine Information

What is in this leaflet

This leaflet answers some common questions about Deseril.

It does not contain all the available information. It does not take the place of talking to your doctor and pharmacist.

All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risks of you taking Deseril against the benefits it can provide.

If you have any concerns about this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Keep this leaflet with the medicine. You may need to read it again.

What Deseril is used for

Deseril is used to prevent attacks of migraine and other types of headaches such as ‘cluster’ headaches and ‘vascular’ headaches.

These headaches are thought to be caused by temporary changes in the size of small blood vessels in the brain. These blood vessels swell, causing the pain and visual disturbances that often happen during an attack. Deseril prevents the attack by affecting the blood vessels in the brain. It is particularly useful if you suffer from one or more migraine attacks per week.

Deseril is only used to prevent migraine attacks from happening. It is not used to treat an attack once it has started.

There are some types of headaches which must not be treated with Deseril. Your doctor will determine the best treatment for your headache.

Deseril contains the active ingredient methysergide. It belongs to a group of medicines known as the “ergot alkaloids.”

Ask your doctor if you have any questions about why this medicine has been prescribed for you. Your doctor may have prescribed it for another reason.

Deseril is only available with a doctor’s prescription.

There is not enough information to recommend this medicine for children.

Before you take Deseril

When you must not take it

Do not take Deseril if you have ever had an allergic reaction to any of the following:

  • Methysergide, the active ingredient in Deseril
  • Any of the other ingredients of Deseril listed at the end of this leaflet
  • Any other ergot alkaloids (e.g. Cafergot®, Dihydergot®, Ergodryl®, Ergometrine®, Kripton®, Parlodel®, Syntometrine®).

Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction may include shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body; rash, itching or hives on the skin.

Do not take Deseril if you have any of the following health problems/medical conditions:

  • Problems with your heart, especially if you have angina that is not controlled or you have had a heart attack
  • High blood pressure that is not controlled
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Poor blood circulation or other blood vessel disorders (e.g. varicose veins, fluid buildup in legs or feet, or conditions that make your fingers and toes unusually sensitive to cold)
  • A disease of the urinary tract
  • Abnormal thickening in the lungs or the tissue behind the abdominal lining that was caused by other medicines.
  • A serious infection
  • You are being treated for HIV/AIDS with a medicine called ritonavir, nelfinavir, indinavir or delvaridine.
  • You are being treated for an infection with a medicine called ketoconazole, itraconazole, erythromycin or clarithromycin

Do not take Deseril if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. This medicine may affect your developing baby if you take it while you are pregnant.

Do not breast-feed if you are taking Deseril. The active ingredient in Deseril may pass into breast milk and may affect your baby.

Do not take Deseril after the expiry date printed on the pack or if the packaging is torn or shows signs of tampering. In that case, return it to your pharmacist.

Before you start to take it

Tell your doctor if you smoke. Nicotine in cigarettes may increase the chance of you having an unwanted side effect called “ergotism” (excessive constriction of blood vessels). See Side Effects section for more information.

Tell your doctor if you are lactose intolerant.

This medicine contains lactose.

Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any other medicines, foods, drinks, dyes or preservatives. Your doctor will want to know if you are prone to allergies.

Taking other medicines

Tell your doctor if you are taking any other medicines, including any that you buy without a prescription from a pharmacy, supermarket or health food store. Some medicines and Deseril may interfere with each other. These include:

  • Some medicines used to treat HIV/AIDS, including ritonavir, nelfinavir, indinavir, saquinavir
  • Some medicines for infections, including ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, clotrimazole, erythromycin, clarithromycin
  • Some medicines used to treat mental disorders, including nefazodone, fluoxetine, fluvoxamine
  • Other ergot alkaloids
  • Other medicines used to treat migraine such as sumatriptan, naratriptan and zolmitriptan
  • Nicotine in medicines used to help you quit smoking, such as nicotine patches or chewing gum
  • Beta-blocker medicines such as propranolol, which are used to prevent migraine and also to treat heart problems and high blood pressure
  • Any other medicine that can cause blood vessels to contract (shrink).

You may need to take different amounts of your medicines or to take different medicines while you are taking Deseril. Your doctor and pharmacist have more information.

If you have not told your doctor about any of these things, tell him/her before you start taking this medicine.

How to take Deseril

Follow all directions given to you by your doctor and pharmacist carefully. These instructions may differ from the information contained in this leaflet.

If you do not understand the instructions on the label, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help.

How much to take

Your treatment will usually begin with a low dose (for example, 1 tablet a day). Your doctor may increase the dosage gradually until you get the best results. Up to 1 or 2 tablets two or three times a day may be needed.

When to take it

Take Deseril every day to prevent your headaches from happening.

Take this medicine with food to prevent stomach upset.

How long to take it

Do not take Deseril for more than six months at a time without a break of 3-4 weeks. If you use Deseril for too long without a break, you may have an increased risk of serious side effects such as “ergotism” or retroperitoneal or pleuropulmonary fibrosis (see Side Effects section for more information).

Your doctor will decrease your dosage gradually over the final 2-3 weeks of each treatment period.

If you forget to take it

If it is more than 4 hours until your next dose is due, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Then take your next dose at the usual time and continue on with your normal schedule.

If your next dose is due within 4 hours, skip the missed dose. Then take your next dose at the usual time.

Do not take a double dose to make up for the one that you missed.

This may increase the chance of you getting an unwanted side effect.

If you have trouble remembering when to take your medicine, ask your pharmacist for some hints.

If you take too much (Overdose)

Immediately telephone your doctor or the Poisons Information Center (telephone number 13 11 26), or go to Accident and Emergency at your nearest hospital if you think that you or anyone else may have taken too much Deseril. Do this even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning. Keep the telephone numbers for these places handy.

Some of the symptoms of an overdose may include nausea (feeling sick), vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, thirst, fast heart-beat or pulse, dizziness, coldness or itching of the skin and numbness or tingling in the fingers and toes.

While you are taking Deseril

Things you must do

If you become pregnant while taking Deseril, tell your doctor. Your doctor can discuss with you the risks of taking it while you are pregnant.

If you are about to be started on any new medicine, remind your doctor and pharmacist that you are taking Deseril.

Tell any other doctor, dentist or pharmacist who treats you that you are taking Deseril.

Things you must not do

Do not take Deseril to treat a migraine attack once it has started. This medicine should only be taken to prevent a migraine attack from happening.

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice while you are taking Deseril. Grapefruit juice may interfere with the action of Deseril in your body.

Do not give this medicine to anyone else, even if their condition seems similar to yours.

Do not take it to treat any other complaints unless your doctor tells you to. This medicine is not appropriate for common ‘tension’ headaches.

Things to be careful of

Be careful driving, operating machinery or doing jobs that require you to be alert until you know how Deseril affects you. This medicine could cause dizziness or vertigo (spinning sensation) in some people. Make sure you know how it affects you before you drive a car, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous.

Side effects

Tell your doctor or pharmacist as soon as possible if you do not feel well while you are taking Deseril, even if you do not think it is connected with the medicine. All medicines can have side effects. Sometimes they are serious, but most of the time they are not. You may need medical treatment if you get some of the side effects.

Do not be alarmed by these lists of possible side effects. You may not experience any of them.

Ask your doctor or pharmacist to answer any questions you may have.

Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following:

  • Signs of allergy such as rash, itching or hives on the skin; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other part of the body; wheezing or troubled breathing
  • Signs of “ergotism” (excessive constriction of blood vessels) such as numbness, coldness, tingling or a pale or bluish colour in the fingers or toes, pain or spasms in muscles, weakness in the lower legs, chest pain
  • Pain in the lower back or side, associated with difficulty in passing urine or pain on urinating, which may be a sign of retroperitoneal fibrosis, a thickening of the abdominal lining that can cause obstruction of the urinary tract
  • Shortness of breath, dry cough, pain in the chest or rib area, which may be a sign of pleuropulmonary fibrosis, a scarring and thickening of lung tissue

The above are serious side effects that need medical attention.

Tell your doctor if you notice any of the following and they worry you:

  • Nausea (feeling sick) or vomiting (may be minimised by taking the tablets with food)
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Vertigo (spinning sensation)
  • Mood changes

Tell your doctor if you notice anything else that is making you feel unwell. Some people may have other side effects not yet known or mentioned in this leaflet.

After taking Deseril


  • Keep your medicine in the original container until it is time to take it.
  • Store it in a cool place where the temperature stays below 30°C.
  • Do not store Deseril or any other medicine in the bathroom or near a sink.
  • Do not leave it in the car or on window sills.

Keep the medicine where children cannot reach it. A locked cupboard at least 1½ metres above the ground is a good place to store medicines.


If your doctor tells you to stop taking Deseril or the expiry date has passed, ask your pharmacist what to do with any medicine that is left over.

Product description

What it looks like

Deseril tablets are round, white sugar-coated tablets printed in black on one side “DSL”; supplied in blister packs of 50.


Each Deseril tablet contains 1 mg of the active ingredient methysergide (as the hydrogen maleate salt).

The tablet also contains the inactive ingredients:

  • Gelatin
  • Maleic acid
  • Stearic acid
  • Talc purified
  • Starch maize
  • Lactose
  • Silica anhydrous colloidal
  • Acacia
  • Sucrose
  • Carnauba wax
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Fine black ink 2202C Markem


Deseril tablets are supplied in Australia by:
Link Medical Products Pty Ltd.
5 Apollo Street
Warriewood NSW 2102

® = Registered Trademark

Date of preparation:
8 October 2012

AUST R 62664

Published by MIMS June 2013