Last updated: 4 August, 2020
Migraine & Headache Australia, a division of the Brain Foundation, is a nationally registered charity that believes reducing the burden of migraine in this country is critically important and urgent. Reducing migraine is also in the public interest given the scale of the problem. Migraine has an estimated economic impact of $35.7 billion each year according to Deloitte Access Economics. One in four Australian households are affected by migraine.
Recently, new treatments have been developed to help prevent and reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. These include an entirely new class of anti-CGRP (Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide) medications which are the first migraine-specific medication designed to help prevent migraine attacks. Some of these medications have been available for over a year in Australia but without Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) coverage they remain unaffordable to many. Some patients have been able to access the treatment on compassionate grounds and others through limited trials.
We understand that many people in the community are frustrated by the time required for listing despite approval being recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC) over 12 months ago. Some patients and carers may not be fully aware of the processes in place required by all new listings to proceed even after a positive PBAC recommendation has occurred. That said, Migraine & Headache Australia is working collaboratively with government to help ensure that the voice of 5 million Australians is represented and heard by the policymakers. Listing this treatment is a nonpartisan issue.
One of the ways we have advocated on behalf of those with migraine and their families is by developing an Australian strategy for chronic migraine. This strategic document outlines several proposals for government to consider to help address the burden of migraine. Read more about the migraine proposals here.
Migraine & Headache Australia thanks Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen for bringing attention to the fact this new class of migraine treatment has received a favourable recommendation for coverage, but has not yet been added to the PBS.
We also thank the PBAC for making the positive recommendation for inclusion on the PBS twelve months ago after careful consideration of the patient submissions and the burden of migraine in Australia. We know that the Department of Health and Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, are working on bringing the new class of anti-CGRP medications for migraine onto the PBS and we appreciate their efforts which are still ongoing.
Migraine should be a national health priority for Australia regardless of current leadership in government. Most people don’t realise that migraine is the second leading cause of all disability according to the World Health Organization. An estimated 400,000 Australians have chronic migraine, meaning they experience debilitating attacks or symptoms on more than half of the days each month.
Migraine & Headache Australia is grateful that migraine is receiving more coverage but we are also aware that the priority is to seek positive and constructive outcomes that will deliver meaningful benefits and support to patients. There have been several opportunities for participation from the community where Migraine & Headache Australia and our community have played a critical role. These include several PBAC submissions which were opened for public comment. One included over 1,900 submissions which helped inform the policy makers about the reality of living with frequent and debilitating migraine.
People living with migraine deserve an affordable price and fair access to proven and safe treatments for migraine. Today, more than ever, we know that public health and wellbeing is a responsibility of all us, including our political leaders. It is a responsibility we all share. Together we can reduce suffering, increase support and the livelihoods of the millions of Australians with chronic migraine.
Migraine & Headache Australia will continue to work with both sides of government to represent the Australians living with migraine and other headache disorders.
If you would like to see more being done, one simple and quick way to get started is to sign up to our National Headache Register to receive our regular newsletter featuring new research, events, news, latest treatments, participate in research or take part in opportunities to advocate. There are regular opportunities to participate in an active and constructive manner. Sign up today.