Let’s face it. Stocking up on drugs is not an idea that makes your insurance company happy. But the challenge of having the right drugs on hand at the right time is adding to worldwide migraine pain.
This is actually a study from June 2007, but it’s worth looking at. Dr. Robert A. Nicholson, assistant professor at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and School of Public Health headed up a study of 233 migraine sufferers who took triptan drugs. Here’s what he found…
42% of patients said that their insurance plan restricted the number of triptan doses covered each month. 37% said they had a prescription for triptan drugs, but hadn’t filled it because of the cost.
Of those with no limitations, 79% took a triptan at first sign of a migraine attack (as most doctors recommend). Of those with prescriptions, only 49% took a triptan at the first sign of an attack. Of those who took a triptan right away, 51% said that migraine had a severe negative impact on their lives. But of those who hesitated to take the drug, 79% said that migraine had a severe negative impact on their lives. In fact, one in three of these people ended up in the emergency room at least once in the previous 12 months.
In summary – if someone’s insurance company is limiting their triptans per month, or if cost is keeping people from using them, they have more severe attacks and more frequent visits to the hospital. Not only does this seem bad for health, it doesn’t seem very cost effective for the insurance company.
The good news is that triptans, when used right away, are working.
One more interesting note. Dr Nicholson notes that many people delay in taking migraine medication because they want to be sure it’s really a migraine. Don’t worry, he says. Statistics show that your first guess is almost always right.
What can we do about this? Look for another insurance company? Find other alternative treatments (for when your pills run out)? What’s your strategy?