Speak Up for Better Migraine Treatments!
The transcript of this podcast is below. If you prefer to listen to it, you can easily do so from the MigraineCast Web site.
Hello and welcome to MigraineCast, brought to you by MyMigraineConnection.com and writer and patient advocate Teri Robert.
I think most of us with Migraines or headaches that are frequent enough to require preventive treatment have complained about the preventive medications available to us. Not a single one of them was originally developed for Migraine and headache treatment. Not one. Yes, we have over 100 medications in use as preventives, but they're all hand-me-down medications that were developed for other conditions then discovered to be helpful for Migraine and headache prevention.
For Migraine abortives, to actually stop a Migraine rather than just masking the pain for a few hours, we rely upon triptans -- Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Relpax, Axert, and Frova -- ergotamines such as DHE 45 and Migranal, or Midrin. That's it. Some experts in the field refer to all the triptans except Imitrex as "me-too" drugs or "variations on a theme."
Another issue for us is not having enough doctors who specialize in the treatment of Migraine disease and other headache disorders.
There's no question that headache disorders have a serious impact on us individually and collectively; resulting in a burden for us and for society. Here are a few facts and statistics that demonstrate this:
Migraine and other headache disorders are the most prevalent neurological disorders. This year...
- more than 25% of middle aged American women will have a migraine attack.
- 25% of American families will have a member with a migraine attack.
- 19% of Iraq war veterans will have a migraine attack.
- 12% of all Americans will have a migraine attack.
- 4% of Americans will have chronic daily headache.
U.S. costs for headache disorders this year will be...
- greater than $31B in total economic losses.
- 9% of all lost labor productivity.
- greater than the costs due to epilepsy, asthma, and ovarian cancer combined.
Headache disorders can be extremely disabling. Migraine results in...
- attacks that can be as disabling as quadriplegia or active psychosis.
- more lost years of healthy life in the US than epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and ovarian cancer combined.
- an increased risk of cardiovascular disease leading to at least 1500 additional deaths in the US annually.
So, the big question here is WHY don't we have better treatments and more trained physicians? The largest reason is lack of research funding. In the U.S., we tend to depend on the pharmaceutical companies for the development of new treatments. BUT, the pharma companies can't work to develop treatments for diseases and disorders without basic research about the cause and pathophysiology of these conditions, and this is the type of research funded by the National Institutes of Health, the NIH.
Although 12% of the U.S. population suffers with Migraines alone, only $13M per year -- less than one-half of one-tenth of one percent of the NIH budget -- goes to Migraine and headache research. If the NIH allocated research funds proportionate to the burden of disease, funding for headache disorders research would be more than $103M per year.
It would be easy to think there's nothing we can do about this, but there IS something we can do. In 2007 and again last week, a group of doctors, researchers, and patient advocates attended an event called "Headache on the Hill." I was honored to be among that group of people. During HOH, each of those people visited their Senators and members of the House to bring this issue to their attention and ask for their assistance. What needs to happen is for specific report language to be added to the Senate and House appropriations bills. This report language would tell the NIH that Congress wants more funding allocated to headache disorders research.
When we were in DC last week, that's what we asked for. Now it's time for all of us to send emails to their members of the House asking them to sign a "Dear Colleague" letter they received from from Congressmen Peter Welch, James Moran, and Jean Schmidt. This letter would lead to the report language we need in the 2010 appropriations bills. We need to send those emails AND ask all of our friends, families, and coworkers to send them too.
The Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy has made it very easy to send those emails. It can be done in literally five minutes. The email is pre-written with a section for you to make personal comments if you wish. Then you add your full name and address to the form and click a button. Based on the address you entered, the email will automatically go to the right people.
Please take a few minutes to send an email to your member of the House. Just go to www.MigraineAdvocacy.org. In the middle of the homepage, is an action alert with a link to send your email. Please also ask everyone you know to send an email. This is a time when one person can make a difference, and when more emails are sent, our case is made more strongly.
Living with severe headaches and Migraine disease for over 40 years has brought me to the realization that learning about Migraine disease and headaches can allow us to work with our doctors as treatment partners to gain control over headaches and Migraines rather than them controlling us. Please join us at MyMigraineConnection for information and support or for a transcript of this podcast. From MyMigraineConnection and the HealthCentral Network, this is Teri Robert reminding you that you can indeed live well, even with Migraine disease and headaches.