Patients Dissatisfied with Migraine Medications

Published Online: Thursday, March 24, 2011
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By Laura Enderle, Assistant Editor

Most of the 30 million Americans suffering with migraines don’t get adequate relief from their current medications, according to a recent survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation (NHF). The findings were released as part of the organization’s National Headache Awareness Week, which began on June 6 and concluded Saturday, June 12.

Researchers questioned 500 clinically diagnosed migraine sufferers between the ages of 25 and 45 to investigate treatment satisfaction and experiences with prescription medications.

A total of 3 in 4 patients told researchers their medications don’t work quickly enough on migraines that attack suddenly or upon waking—the most common type of headache, the survey found.

In addition to needing faster-acting treatments, patients were generally dissatisfied with the performance of their current medications. A total of 54% of respondents said their prescription oral migraine medication does not help with every attack, and less than 20% said they use an alternative prescription medication in place of an oral tablet.

Of those who do not use an alternative, 1 in 4 choose to “simply endure their headaches” rather than seek additional treatment. Half of patients (51%) said they were dissatisfied overall with their migraine medications.

Although migraine treatments have evolved in the last 40 years, the findings indicate there is still much to learn, according to Robert Dalton, executive director of NHF. “We have only begun to scratch the surface of this complex, biological disease,” Dalton said.

He believes patient education, as well as increased awareness and adoption of the latest treatment options, can help patients and health care providers achieve better results from medication therapy for migraine.

National Headache Awareness Week: Resources for Pharmacists
Although National Headache Awareness Week is over, pharmacists can support this important public health campaign by taking advantage of NHF’s extensive collection of educational materials. Resources include a Q&A section featuring expertise of pharmacists and physicians, patient education brochures, headache-charting and tracking tools, fact sheets, and screening tools and assessments. All materials are available for free on the National Headache Awareness Week Web site.


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