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Codeine leads migraine scripts

Posted 11 September 2019

As specialty later-line migraine drugs approach the market, a new study has shown common painkillers are mostly used when patients experience attacks, with codeine the second most common. 

A recent survey titled 'The 2019 Nurofen #MYgraine Report', sponsored by Nurofen maker Reckitt Benckiser and conducted by Headache Australia, found ibuprofen was the main first-line treatment used by patients.

It said the common painkiller was used among 54 per cent of migraine patients, "ahead of prescription medicines from doctors".

But 53 per cent of the respondents said they were prescribed codeine by their doctor for migraines, while 60 per cent said they were prescribed "another medication". 

The report did not mention the uptake of specific prescription medicines among patients or mention how many of the patients had episodic or chronic migraines, but PBS data shows scripts for third-line chronic migraine treatment Botox numbered 33,500 in the year to July. 

These are the scripts Lilly's Emgality will be competing for after the CGRP biologic was recommended in the latest July PBAC meeting.

The committee said it would be "appropriate" for the drug to fall under Botox's subsidisation caps and risk share agreement.

Rivals Novartis' Aimovig and Teva's Ajovy are in the upcoming November meeting. 


The survey also found a majority or 62 per cent of respondents who had migraine felt "misunderstood" while three-quarters of respondents said it impacted on their levels of happiness. 

It found one-in-ten Australians thought migraines were fake. 

"Migraine is a prevalent condition experienced in a variety of different ways by almost five million Australians. Our research highlights the disconnect between the perceived realities and lived experiences of migraine," Headache Australia's CEO Trevor Thompson said. 

The survey was conducted with 1,210 respondents and coincides with the patient group's activities for Headache Week. 

The group has also organised expert-led sessions for patients as part of the week, with its website revealing Lilly is one of the sponsors.  

Yajun Ma

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