As anyone who ever experienced a migraine headache knows it can be extremely debilitating—I know this first hand as someone who experiences periodic migraines. Unless a chronic migraine patient goes to a treatment provider who understands appropriate interventions for this condition, they can run the risk of unnecessary pain and suffering, including the possibility of prescription drug addiction. Many people are given opiates for migraine treatment even though they are not an FDA approved medication.
Medications used to combat migraines fall into two broad categories
Pain-relieving medications. Also known as acute or abortive treatment, these types of drugs are taken during migraine attacks and are designed to stop symptoms that have already begun.
Preventive medications. These types of drugs are taken regularly, often on a daily basis, to reduce the severity or frequency of migraines.
Unfortunately, in the realm of Migraine treatment, little emphasis is placed on whether the medications have been specifically FDA approved for the treatment of Migraine since so few are FDA approved for the prevention of it. In fact, there is not a single medication that was originally developed for Migraine prevention. All were originally developed for other purposes. When it comes to treating Migraine attacks (acute treatment), however, this is not the case. There are seven triptans (Imitrex, Maxalt, Zomig, Amerge, Axert, Frova, and Relpax) that were developed for and FDA approved as Migraine abortive (management) medications. These medications work to actually stop the Migrainous process in the brain and stop the Migraine attack and its associated symptoms.
Ergotamine medications (used as vasoconstrictors for migraine prevention and are sometimes mixed with caffeine) such as DHE and Migranal; they are also FDA approved for Migraine treatment as is Midrin (a combination of acetaminophen, dichloralphenazone, and isometheptene). The NHF study also involved prescription pain relieving medications, which cannot abort a Migraine, as well as the triptans. Thus, the issue here is not so much FDA approval of acute medications, but the difference between using “generic pain medications” as opposed to Migraine-specific medications.
To learn more about this topic please go to our research page and scroll down to the posting titled Information and Guidelines for Migraine Management that you can download for free on our News & Research 2008 Archive page.
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