One of The Migraine Association of Ireland’s goals at the start of 2021 was to open the discussion for better ‘Access to Care’ in Ireland for those living with migraine in conjunction with the European Migraine and Headache Association (EMHA). Unfortunately, Ireland lags way behind in the medication approval process as well as the market availability compared to our neighbouring countries in the UK and Europe. We strongly believe migraine patients in Ireland should have the same medications available to them as other countries across the pond do, and that the standard wait time for medications to be approved should be reduced significantly.
MAI’s Board Member, Jeff Smith M.D. delved into this in detail at the EMHA 2021 #TogetherTalks on the 16th of June where he showed the staggering difference compared to other countries and what we could do as a nation to improve wait times. This event came off the back of the EMHA ‘Access to Care’ global survey which ran over a 6-week period asking participants to take part to tell them ‘How they felt the access to care and cost of care was in their country’. Following on from this The Migraine Association of Ireland created a survey to ask migraine patients multiple questions on ‘How they viewed the access to care and medication in Ireland’.
A total of 83 participants took part in the MAI survey. We asked 7 questions in total around access to care, treatments and medications available in Ireland compared to other countries. Questions were targeted at those suffering from episodic and chronic migraine. We also wanted to gain feedback from migraine sufferers, therefore, we left some questions open to comment, while also having scored questions to gain a consensus to how those living with migraine feel about access to care in Ireland overall. The results are as follows…
- 44% stated they have episodic migraine, 56% suffer with chronic migraine.
- When asked how you would rate treatment options available in Ireland (1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest), most participants scored 5. The second highest score was 1, the remaining high scores were all feel under 5 showing a lack of satisfaction overall.
- When asked how you would rate medication options available in Ireland, most participants scored 5. The second highest scores were 3 and 4. Again, most of the high scores were on the lower side of the scale.
- When asked how you would rate treatment options for migraine in Ireland compared to other countries, most participants scored 5. Second to that high score was 2.
- When asked do you think Ireland is far behind other countries in relation to treatment/medication for migraine, 82% said yes.
- When asked what needs to happen to improve treatment options in Ireland, we had an array of responses suggesting better access to care, treatments, and medication options. Multiple participants stated they had to travel the UK for treatment, more access to Anti-CGRP drugs, more regular clinic times, more access to medications overall as it can be trial and error for those living with migraine to see what works for them and more access to devices to name a few.
- Lastly, we asked if there were any further comments our participants may like to add. Most said there needs to more awareness around how debilitating migraine is, GPs should be further educated in this area, chronic migraine should be put on the disability list and to quote one participant, “I honestly feel Ireland is way behind the rest of the western world in the acknowledgement and treatments available for migraine sufferers.
The conclusion from this survey is most participants view Ireland’s access to care for migraine as lacking in much needed resources, medical professionals specialising in migraine, GPs with a full understanding of migraine, facilities nationwide and options for kids as well as adults. In addition, most feel waiting lists are too long, and this has a huge impact on their life overall. The word ‘MORE’ was used in nearly every answer which further proves that migraineurs in Ireland feel they do not have enough options when it comes to care and medication to have the quality of life they deserve. The consensus is that Ireland is significantly behind other countries in relation to treatment options and access to medication for Migraine.