Dr Rigmor Jensen Discusses Prevalence of Medication Overuse Headache

October 13, 2020

Medication overuse headache is a huge problem in societies that don't have access to proper headache care as patients take more over-the-counter, readily available treatments, said Rigmor Jensen, MD, professor of neurology at The University of Copenhagen and director of the Danish Headache Center.

Medication overuse headache is a huge problem in societies that don't have access to proper headache care as patients take more over-the-counter, readily available treatments, said Rigmor Jensen, MD, professor of neurology at The University of Copenhagen and director of the Danish Headache Center.

Transcript:

The American Journal of Managed Care® (AJMC®): How do advances in non-invasive migraine treatments (e.g. light therapy, remote electrical neuromodulation) play into the debate on medication overuse headache?

Dr. Jensen: It is also a hard issue about these things. Actually, it's not that well-documented that it works, but patients like to do something other than drugs. I would love to see a good study that is properly blinded with a sham control, because at the moment, I am not sure that we have the right model, the right design for such a study. But absolutely, there is a way forward there to work with patients that are withdrawing their acute medication, so they have an alternative.

AJMC®: How prevalent is medication overuse headache?

Dr. Jensen:Totally, in the global perspective, it's 1 to 2% of the whole population that has medication overuse, and it's specialized so it's not a small disease. You can imagine how it is in India, how it is in Latin America and in many, many societies that have no access to health care and absolutely no access to proper headache care. What should they do? They take just more and more over-the-counter medication. And we have seen that in some countries. It's a huge, huge problem. But among migraineurs in the clinic, it's up to half of the patients that have a medication overuse problem, or nearly half of the patients, some countries more than others. But it's half on the migraine patients that have the problem. Not only migraineurs have medication overuse, we can also see it in the post traumatic headache, in diabetics among others but it's most prevalent in migraine.