Side effect concerns may delay migraine treatment

April 1, 2003

Pharmaceutical Representative

Pharmaceutical Representative-04-01-2003,

Two out of three migraine sufferers have delayed taking their medications or have skipped doses altogether because of concerns about side effects.

Two out of three migraine sufferers have delayed taking their medications or have skipped doses altogether because of concerns about side effects, according to a study published in the journal Headache (vol. 43, no. 1). These concerns led to a delay in taking medication in 37% of treated migraine episodes and to medication avoidance in 44% of untreated attacks.

The study, based on a national survey of 2,444 headache and migraine sufferers, was conducted to further investigate factors that influence patient compliance with migraine treatment. Of the 2,444 sufferers, 1,160 met the target criteria established by the International Headache Society, which included migraine pain lasting up to 72 hours and migraine pain that resulted in nausea or vomiting. These patients were asked about their headaches, medication use and experience with side effects.

"This study showed concerns regarding side effects from medications can be a real problem for migraine sufferers, causing them to delay or avoid taking their prescriptions and making their headaches worse and more challenging to treat," said Michael Gallagher, co-author of the study and director of the University Headache Center.

Impact of delaying or skipping

Patients who delayed or skipped medication found that the impact on their daily lives was severe. Delaying or avoiding treatment resulted in more intense pain (60% of sufferers), the need to lie down (59%), longer duration of pain (59%), canceling social activities (26%), poor performance at school or work (25%), and absence from work (21%). Those with more severe headaches reported greater disability related to delayed or skipped doses. PR

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