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National Headache Foundation Survey Shows Majority of People with Migraine are Unable to Control Disease and Dissatisfied with Current Preventive Treatment Options

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May 11, 2021
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- 84% of people currently taking a preventive treatment wish there was a better treatment option

- Migraine disease has a broad and negative impact, affecting people's socio-emotional health and their family, professional and social lives

- More than two-thirds (67%) of people with migraine who have tried or are currently taking a preventive treatment feel like they are chasing an unreachable goal to get their migraine disease under control

PR Newswire

CHICAGO, May 11, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Headache Foundation today announced findings from a new survey, Preventing Migraine Attacks: A Current Perspective, which characterizes the experiences of people living with migraine and highlights the physical and emotional barriers to preventive treatment.


The survey found half (50%) of people with migraine are extremely dissatisfied with their current ability to control their disease and report a range of emotions as a result, including frustration (39%), exhaustion (29%), stress (19%) and anxiety (15%). Despite the variety of options currently available to treat and prevent migraines, most people with migraine still aren't able to completely control their disease and the negative effects and feelings that come with it. In fact, most responders (84%) currently taking a preventive treatment wish there was a better treatment option.

"Migraine is the second most debilitating disease worldwide and it impacts all facets of a person's life, causing significant emotional and physical distress. So many people with migraine live in fear every day because they don't know when an attack will hit," says Jill Dehlin, RN, a person with migraine and Chair of the National Headache Foundation's Patient Leadership Council. "In this survey, many people reported feeling they are chasing an unreachable goal to get their migraine disease under control, highlighting the need for new preventive treatment options, as well as resources to educate and empower them to take control of their disease."

While the cycle of trying and failing new preventive treatments is exhausting to most people (76%), the majority are hopeful and optimistic when starting a new therapy (82%), with more than half (53%) saying the single most important attribute for a future preventive migraine treatment is to provide more migraine-free days per month.

The survey also explored how migraine disproportionately affects women and people of color to better understand their unique experiences and address challenges. For nearly half of women with migraine disease (48%), hormonal changes related to menstruation, menopause or childbirth triggered worsening of their migraine disease.

Black and Hispanic people with migraine reported being more likely to feel worry, fear, and anxiety at the thought of taking a preventive treatment. But when asked about treating their disease overall, 77% of Black and 73% of Hispanic responders say they wish they had sought care sooner.

Black people with migraine disease are also more likely to find the impact of the disease on their daily lives unacceptable. The survey revealed they grapple with negative feelings about managing their disease more frequently than other responders:

  • 68% feel like they are chasing a goal that they cannot reach to get their disease under control
  • 72% report feeling that life is passing them by
  • Two-thirds (66%) often feel a keen sense of frustration in having to adjust treatments
  • Two-thirds (66%) feel they are a "guinea pig" as their healthcare provider tries to find the right preventive treatment for them

Hispanic responders had similar experiences, but were less aware of preventive treatment options than others.

  • 73% feel they are juggling migraine treatments trying to find the right one
  • 73% feel like they are chasing a goal that they cannot reach to get their disease under control
  • 71% report feeling that life is passing them by

The survey indicates that living with migraine disease has a broad and detrimental impact on people's lives, affecting their energy level (64%), mental clarity (57%), productivity (54%), personal relationships (31-50%) and professional success (49%). In fact, sixty-five percent (65%) of responders say their migraine disease makes them feel like life is passing them by and over half (52%) say they cannot make plans with friends, family or colleagues because their disease is so unpredictable.Additionally, more than two-thirds (67%) acknowledge their risk of anxiety and depression increases as the number of their migraine attacks increase.

"Biohaven is committed to the almost 40 million people who suffer from migraine. We are proud to support this research with the National Headache Foundation to help identify and address the unmet needs of the migraine community," said Vlad Coric, M.D., Chief Executive Officer of Biohaven. "This research showcases the need for new preventive treatment options and helps determine how we can invest our resources to best meet the needs of people with migraine."

This survey was funded by Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd.

About Migraine Preventive Survey
The Preventing Migraine Attacks: A Current Perspectivewas a 20-minute, online, quantitative opinion survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation and funded by Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd. The survey was fielded between February and March 2021 and included responses from almost 1,200 women and men aged 18-70+ in the U.S. who were diagnosed by a healthcare provider with migraine disease 2 or more years ago and satisfied one of the following criteria:

  • Been prescribed a preventive migraine treatment
  • Currently taking a preventive migraine treatment
  • Previously taken a preventive migraine treatment

About Migraine
Migraine is a debilitating and recurrent disease characterized by attacks lasting four to 72 hours with multiple symptoms, including pulsating headaches of moderate to severe pain intensity that can be associated with nausea or vomiting, and/or sensitivity to sound (phonophobia) and sensitivity to light (photophobia). Nearly 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from migraine and the World Health Organization classifies migraine as one of the 10 most disabling medical illnesses.

About the National Headache Foundation
Founded in 1970, the National Headache Foundation is the oldest and largest foundation for individuals living with migraine disease and headache disorders. The NHF is the premier educational and informational resource for those in the headache community, health care professionals, and the public. The four pillars of the NHF are education, awareness, advocacy, and research. NHF works to inform policymakers, at the national and state levels, and the general public of the need to help patients get access to safe and appropriate care. Through its WorkMigraine program, the NHF reaches out to employers throughout the US to provide education for their staff and support in their efforts to minimize the cost and impact of chronic headaches. The Foundations works to educate and encourage the 40 million Americans with migraine and chronic headaches to become self-advocates with their healthcare practitioners, insurers, employers, and families.

About Biohaven
Biohaven (NYSE: BHVN) is a commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company with a portfolio of innovative, best-in-class therapies to improve the lives of patients with debilitating neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases, including rare disorders. Biohaven's neuroinnovation portfolio includes an FDA-approved product for the acute treatment of migraine and a broad pipeline of late-stage product candidates across three distinct mechanistic platforms: CGRP receptor antagonism for the acute and preventive treatment of migraine; glutamate modulation for obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer's disease, and spinocerebellar ataxia; and MPO inhibition for multiple system atrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. More information about Biohaven is available at

Media Contact
Mike Beyer
Sam Brown Inc.
(312) 961-2502
[email protected]


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SOURCE Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd.

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