Insurance Limits, Costs Keep Migraine Patients From Meds

THURSDAY, June 7 (HealthDay News) -- Insurance restrictions and out-of-pocket costs cause many migraine sufferers to not take medications when needed because they're concerned about running out of the drugs, a new U.S. study contends.

That can result in people having to cope with potentially disabling migraine pain and suffering poorer quality of life, the researchers say.

" 'I want to make sure it's a migraine' is one of the common phrases we hear," study lead investigator Robert A. Nicholson, assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement.

"They're in a quandary, because they figure if it's not a migraine, they don't want to 'waste' a pill. But research shows that if people think it's a migraine, they're almost always right," Nicholson said.

The study included 233 migraine sufferers who took triptan drugs to treat their migraines. Of those patients, 42 percent said their insurance plan restricted the number of triptan doses covered per month, and 37 percent said they had not bothered to fill a triptan prescription because of the cost.

Only 49 percent of patients with insurance limitations said they took a triptan at the first sign of migraine, compared to 79 percent who had no limitations on their migraine drugs.

The study also found that 79 percent of patients who waited to take pain medication said migraines had a severe negative impact on their quality of life, compared to 51 percent who took their medication at the first sign of a migraine.

The findings were to be presented Thursday at the American Headache Society's annual meeting in Chicago.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about dealing with migraine pain.

SOURCE: American Headache Society, news release, June 7, 2007

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