Burlington, Vermont – July 20, 2011 - US Representative, and presidential candidate, Michele Bachmann reported yesterday that “I experience migraines that are easily controlled with medication," and that “…my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief.” Representative Bachmann’s reassuring remarks require no further clarification; several distinguished US presidents, including Ulysses Grant and probably Thomas Jefferson, suffered severe migraine attacks during their terms in office.
However, Representative Bachmann’s candid disclosures bring to public awareness the stark fact that, for millions of other Americans, migraine attacks can be severely disabling, as well as a compulsory undisclosed private matter due to the widespread stigmatization of the disorder.
This year nearly 1 in 5 Americans will experience some form of migraine attack, and 1 in 25 Americans will have headaches at least 15 days per month. Available migraine therapies are few in number and often limited in effectiveness and tolerability. Over the past 49 years, only one innovative drug, discovered and developed specifically for migraine treatment and given priority review by the FDA, has been approved for clinical use. Since breakthrough drugs are typically discovered by publicly funded research investigators, rather than within pharmaceutical company laboratories, it is alarming that US federally funded migraine research totaled only $15M in 2010. The World Health Organization estimates that migraine is responsible for more lost years of healthy life in the US than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis combined, yet these disorders received more than 45 times more research funding from the National Institutes of Health than migraine last year.
In light of the pivotal role for NIH funded research in the discovery of novel drugs, the Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy strongly urges Congress to prioritize marked increases in federal research funding to understand the causes of migraine and to discover novel effective treatments for it.
The Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy is comprised of ten not-for-profit national and regional member organizations advocating on behalf of patients with migraine and other headache disorders. http://www.allianceforheadacheadvocacy.org/
Robert E. Shapiro, MD, PhD