Migraine Medication Prescribing Patterns Across Racial Groups

Migraine medication prescription patterns and quality of prescribed medications for migraine headache are similar between minorities and other racial groups.

Migraine medication prescription patterns and quality of prescribed medications for migraine headache were similar between minorities and other racial groups, according to a study published in Cephalalgia.1

Investigators obtained patient data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to evaluate migraine prophylactic medication prescription patterns in different racial groups. The main hypothesis for this study was that minority populations would receive suboptimal migraine treatment.

In total, 2860 patient visits between 2006 and 2013 were included in this study. There were no significant differences among racial groups who did not receive prophylactic treatments (P =.99) for migraines. In addition, no difference was observed among African Americans (AA), non-Hispanic Whites (NHW), and Hispanic (HI) patients receiving Level A prophylaxis treatment (P =.30). Specifically, only 18.8% of AA, 11.9% of NHW, and 6.9% of HI patients received Level A prophylaxis, indicating an underutilization of high-quality prophylactic medications in patients with migraine disorders.

No differences were observed between patient groups not receiving abortive treatments for migraine (P =.23). Any Level A abortives (triptans or dihydroergotamine) were prescribed to 15.3%, 19.4%, and 17.7% of AA, NHW, and HI patients, respectively (P =.64). A small percentage of the entire patient population (15.2%) received opiate prescriptions; however, no racial differences were found.

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According to the findings, the researchers concluded that opiate medications may be overused in patients with migraine, regardless of race, whereas Level A acute analgesics are underused. The investigators also commented that their data shows that there is a major opportunity to improve medication prescribing quality among all patients, and this action “may be a high-yield strategy to reduce headache burden” in the United States.

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  1. Charleston L, Burke JF. Do racial/ethnic disparities exist in recommended migraine treatments in US ambulatory care? [published online January 1, 2017]. Cephalalgia. doi: 10.1177/0333102417716933