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Survey: Migraine Patients Taking Potentially Addictive Barbiturate,or Opioid Medications Not Approved by FDA as Migraine Treatments

Addiction can lead to hospitalization and drug withdrawal

CHICAGO, May 15, 2007 /PRNewswire/ -- A new survey of hundreds of migraine patients and physicians commissioned by the National Headache Foundation and conducted by Harris Interactive shows that 20 percent of migraine patients are currently taking potentially addictive medications that contain barbiturates or opioids and have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the relief of migraines.

Migraines affect nearly 30 million Americans, according to the National Headache Foundation.

The survey also shows that patients taking prescription medications not approved by the FDA to treat migraines are more likely to experience drug-related side effects than patients taking prescription medications that have been approved by the FDA as migraine treatments.

"It's important for physicians, especially primary care physicians, who most often treat migraine patients, to be aware that medications containing opioids or barbiturates have the potential to produce drug dependence and addictive behavior, especially with regular use," said Richard B. Lipton, M.D., professor and vice chair of neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and director of the Montefiore Headache Center. "FDA-approved medications such as triptans are specifically targeted to treat migraine pain and associated symptoms and have a far better safety profile."

The survey of 502 patients and 201 primary care physicians and neurologists conducted earlier this year found that 53 percent of migraine patients take triptans as the primary prescription medication for their condition, but 20 percent take barbiturates or opioids. Another 27 percent take other medications.

Not All Migraine Treatments Are Equal

Triptans stop a migraine attack after the attack begins by stimulating serotonin, which reduces inflammation and
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