J Headache Pain. 2022 Aug 28;23(1):111. doi: 10.1186/s10194-022-01476-y.
OBJECTIVE: This study examines changes in utilization and costs trends associated with migraine medications.
BACKGROUND: Migraine attacks are a burden to many patients. There are many pharmacotherapy options available with newer migraine drug classes entering the market in the past decade. Little is known about the use, associated costs, and the impact of the newer agents.
METHODS: This retrospective, cross-sectional study examined 2017-2020 administrative claims from a large national pharmacy benefits manager. Patients aged ≥ 18 years enrolled in commercial, Medicare, Medicaid, or health insurance exchange insurance plans who filled ≥ 2 prescription claims for triptans, ergotamines, isometheptenes, gepants, ditans, and CGRP mABs were included. A two-sample t-test was conducted to estimate whether differences in mean utilization and costs between 2017 and 2020 were statistically significant for migraine drug classes, except for CGRP mABs, which were estimated between 2018 and 2020.
RESULTS: The sample ranged from 161,369 (2017) to 240,330 (2020) patients. 84.5% (n = 203,110; 2020) of patients were women. The number of 30-day adjusted prescription fills for prophylaxis remained stable over the four-year period, except for CGRP mABs, which increased from 0.5% (n = 0.007; 2018) to 5.3% (n = 0.075; 2020). Antiepileptics, antidepressants and beta blockers were the most common prophylaxes, while triptans, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs/non-narcotic analgesics and opioids were the most common treatments utilized. CGRP mABs were the most expensive, while utilization of triptans were the highest. CGRP mABs had the largest increase in utilization (177.5%) and costs (166.3%) PPPM in 2020 ($291.17) compared to 2018 ($109.35), the year they were first available (p < 0.001). Between 2018 and 2020, costs increased overall and for commercial and Medicare enrollees, but remained unchanged for Medicaid and HIX members.
CONCLUSION: Our study demonstrates a shift in migraine medication utilization from 2017-2020, where increased use of CGRP mABs had a significant contribution to increased costs. These increased pharmacy costs must be weighed against the improved tolerability of these agents likely resulting in other healthcare and indirect cost savings.