Why we need more Innovation in Migraine

Migraine is one of the most prevalent health conditions in the world, with over 1 billion people affected worldwide1– everyone knows several people affected by it. In Australia:

  • Migraine affects over 20% of the total population
  • 28.7% of women live with migraine
  • 13% of men live with migraine
  • 86% of people with migraine are of working age (15-65)2

While many people with migraine experience episodic attacks, there is a substantial proportion (7.6%) of people who live with migraine who have been diagnosed with chronic migraine2 (Defined as more than 15 headache days a month with at least 8 being considered migraine attacks). Chronic migraine represents a significant impact on a person’s quality of life and their ability to participate in society.

Migraine is a debilitating condition, that causes most people affected to stop their regular daily activities until the attack subsides. This can cause people to miss school, work, or family responsibilities and have an impact on their greater wellbeing. Migraine is rarely seen by the general public as a disability, but it was the second largest cause of years lived with disability in 20161. This directly challenges the misrepresented nature of migraine as a condition that is not serious or disabling and speaks to the enormous impact that migraine has on society.

Migraine (including medication overuse headache) was the second largest cause of disability in 2016, comprising 5.6% of global YLDs (Years Lived with Disability)

GBD 2016 Headache Collaborators, 2018

The economic costs of migraine in Australia is significant and challenges the perception that migraine is ‘just a headache’ and not worth taking seriously. For 2018, Deloitte Access Economics estimated that the economic cost of migraine in Australia was $35.7 billion.
$8.1 billion was attributed to chronic migraine and $27.6 billion attributed to episodic migraine. The estimated cost per person per year was $21,706 per chronic migraine sufferer and $6,137 per episodic migraine sufferer2.

Migraine had economic cost of $35.7 billion in Australia in 2018

Deloitte Access Economics, 2018

Research funding in Australia for migraine is inadequate compared to the impact that migraine has on those who are living with the condition and the impact it has on the economy.
Total National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding for migraine in 2018 was estimated to be $1.38 million, or only 0.2% of overall NHMRC grant funding.
The Australian Research Council ARC also provides Commonwealth funding for research, for which no studies containing the keywords migraine or headache were funded or running during 2018. In fact the ARC had only funded one study with the keyword migraine between the years of 2001-20182.

There are 4.9 million people with migraine in Australia, which means in 2018, there were only 28 cents of research funding per person living with migraine.

Why Innovation?

Innovation represents a clear avenue to create a significant impact on the quality of life and functioning of people with migraine. While we all hope that the root cause of migraine can be treated or cured one day, there is an opportunity to start making a difference to the 1 billion people with migraine much sooner and reduce the amount of time that is lost due to disability. The combination of neurological research and commercial innovation is essential in providing evidence-based solutions for patients who want to be able to resume their lives as soon as possible. In the past few years, there have been exciting developments in pharmacological and biological treatments like CGRPs, ditans and gepants as well innovative solutions like green light therapy and neuromodulation devices. It is this kind of research and innovation that has already changed the lives of so many people with migraine.

Innovation in Migraine is a project intended to promote and share research and innovation in migraine in an accessible manner, as well as advocate for further funding for such an important cause.

If you are working in migraine research or creating innovative, evidence based solutions for people living with migraine, I would love to hear from you – please reach out to me (Grace) at InnovationinMigraine@gmail.com.

Sources that I recommend you read if you want to know more about the burden of migraine:

1: Global, regional, and national burden of migraine and tension-type headache, 1990–2016: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(18)30322-3/fulltext#articleInformation

2: Migraine in Australia, Deloitte Access Economics 2018 https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/Economics/deloitte-au-economics-migraine-australia-whitepaper-101018.pdf

Not referenced, just interesting: Global burden of 369 diseases and injuries in 204 countries and territories, 1990–2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30925-9/fulltext#seccestitle20aa

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