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A large pharmacy claims-based descriptive analysis of patients with migraine and associated pharmacologic treatment patterns

Authors Muzina D, Chen W, Bowlin SJ

Published 11 November 2011 Volume 2011:7(1) Pages 663—672


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

David J Muzina, William Chen, Steven J Bowlin
Medco Health Solutions Inc and Medco Research Institute, LLC, Franklin Lakes, NJ, USA

Purpose: To investigate drug use, prescribing patterns, and comorbidities among patients with migraine in a large pharmacy claims database.
Methods: 104,625 migraine subjects (identified according to the criteria in the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision [ICD-9] for migraine or migraine-specific acute medication use) and an equal number of control patients were selected from a de-identified claims database; the prevalence of patients with migraine-specific claims was determined. Patient demographics, migraine-related medication use, other psychotropic medication use, and comorbidities over a 12-month period were compared between the migraine population and the control group and between migraine subgroups.
Results: Of the study population, 3.5% had a migraine diagnosis according to the ICD-9 or received a migraine-specific acute medication. Compared with controls, migraine patients had significantly greater disease comorbidity and higher use of prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and controlled painkillers; they were also more likely to receive medications used to prevent migraines and other nonmigraine psychotropic medications, such as anxiolytics and hypnotics. Among migraine patients, 66% received acute migraine-specific medication while only 20% received US Food and Drug Administration–approved migraine preventive therapy. Notably, one-third of high triptan users did not receive any kind of preventive medication. Multiple medical and psychiatric comorbidities were observed at higher rates among migraine sufferers. In addition to significantly higher utilization of antidepressants compared with controls, migraine patients also received significantly more other psychotropic drugs by a factor of 2:1.
Conclusion: Acute migraine medications are commonly used and frequently dispensed at rates that raise concern of overuse; high use is often seen without any preventive medications. Furthermore, use of US Food and Drug Administration–approved preventive medications is low. Finally, patients with migraine are significantly more likely to receive other psychotropic medications. These findings suggest efforts to optimize the management of migraines could address appropriate use of triptans, increased and more effective use of migraine preventive medications, and better understanding of the use of other psychotropics.

Keywords: headaches, triptans, migraine preventive therapy, comorbidity, psychotropics

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