The cost of migraine and its treatment

Am J Manag Care. 2005 Jun;11(2 Suppl):S62-7.


Migraine headache incurs estimated annual costs totaling as much as 17 billion dollars in the United States. Most of the direct costs are for outpatient services: medications, office or clinic visits, emergency department visits, laboratory and diagnostic services, and management of treatment side effects. Indirect costs from lost productivity in the workplace add substantially to the total. The triptan class of drugs, used for abortive treatment, account for the greatest portion of medication costs. Because these agents are expensive, optimal use is critical. Research suggests that a stratified care strategy, with initial therapy based on the patient's score on the Migraine Disability Assessment Scale, is both clinically advantageous and more cost-effective than stepped-care strategies. Also, the triptans are not interchangeable, and costs as well as clinical outcomes may vary with different agents in this class. Migraine prophylaxis is aimed at preventing frequent attacks and the development of a long-term condition that often incurs heavy costs for abortive treatment, diagnostic services, and medical care. Agents approved for migraine prophylaxis include the antiepileptics divalproex and topiramate and the beta blockers propranolol and timolol. As with abortive therapy, costs vary widely among these prophylactic agents. A novel approach to migraine prophylaxis is injection of botulinum toxin. A cost-analysis model is presented to show the impact of utilizing botulinum toxin in a large managed care system.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Budgets
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Health Expenditures
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Migraine Disorders / economics*
  • United States