Migraine Medication Prices and Election ‘08

Teri Robert @trobert Health Guide
  • One of the biggest complaints Migraineurs have is access to Migraine abortive medications, especially the triptans - Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, etc.


    The problem isn't getting a doctor to prescribe triptans. Doctors prefer to prescribe abortive medications that can actually stop a Migraine in its tracks rather than pain medications that can do nothing but mask the pain for a few hours.


    So, what IS the problem? It all comes down to the price of triptans. Triptan prices range from $18 to $70 per dose, an average of $25 per dose, and Migraineurs frequently use two doses to treat a single Migraine attack. This presents us with two main problems:

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    • Those without insurance often have problems affording triptans.
    • Insurance companies are limiting the number of doses of triptans allowed per month.

    The insurance companies are being very short-sighted about this issue. None of us would mind them limiting our triptans IF they could also limit the number of Migraines we get, but they obviously can't. What they fail to take into account is that covering triptans as prescribed by our doctors is far less expensive than even a single emergency room visit, and some Migraineurs must resort to going to the ER once they're out of triptans. Yes, Migraineurs can pay for additional triptans out-of-pocket, but why should we? We've already paid for our insurance benefits, either as part of our employment compensation or by paying the premiums. It's absurd. It should be a criminal offense.


    Why are drug prices so high? That's a question with a multitude of answers. Lately, the pharmaceutical companies have been taking a lot of heat for gifts to doctors, advertising, and more. I can see that, but I also think we tend to forget that pharmaceutical companies are businesses with shareholders to answer to. They must show profits. We also tend to forget that for every drug that successfully makes it to market, there are at least a dozen that fail, and the research and development costs for those drugs must be absorbed into the costs of the drugs that do make it to the market. It irks me that medications sold by US pharmaceutical companies are sold at lower prices in other countries. At least some of that is because the governments of those countries control prices, and the pharma companies must sell at lower prices or not sell in those countries.


    What are we to do? Put the right people in Washington. Do you vote? If not, why not? Congress has the power to do something about drug prices, and WE decide who serves in Congress. The President and Vice President also influence such issues, and we elect them. All of these people are supposed to be in Washington serving us.


    Primaries are about to begin. Please find out where the candidates stand on the issues and cast your vote wisely. In January, we'll be launching a site to follow healthcare issues through the election. Please watch for it!




Published On: December 10, 2007