Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

Dear pharmaceutical companies

You get blamed when your products fail or cause dangerous side effects. Maligned in the press, you are accused of seeking profits before the welfare of patients. “Big pharma” is a dirty word, spewed out with contempt and derision.

What is often overlooked are the countless ways in which your products improve patient quality of life and even save lives. I owe my treatment success, in large part, to your innovative migraine treatments. Without you, my life would be a miserable lump of pain and suffering that would have likely ended in suicide long ago.

You saved my life.

New Drug Development

I will never forget the first time a migraine attack was aborted by a triptan. Within minutes, I went from agonizing pain, nausea, and photophobia to feeling perfectly fine. It was as close to a miracle that I’ve ever experienced. I cried for joy and hugged the nurse! I was 25 years old and had been treating migraine unsuccessfully for over two decades.

You gave me hope for the first time.

The development of triptans was intentionally targeted at migraine patients. Yet even when you develop drugs for other conditions, they may someday be used for migraine.

Botox was a running joke for many because of its reputation as a cosmetic treatment for the rich and vain. That all changed for me when the first round of injections knocked out 75% of my migraine attacks and put the brakes on sixteen years of cluster headache attacks.

Toradol isn’t a migraine-specific drug. Yet it has never failed to stop status migrainosus each and every time. It has been so effective that my doctor prescribed it for home use to keep me out of the emergency room. I haven’t needed the ER almost three years.

You changed my life!

Not all of us have been this lucky. Many of my migraine brothers and sisters still need better drugs to fight this disease. Please, please keep creating new drugs!

Funding Research

The U.S. government isn’t really supporting much research on headache disorders. If it wasn’t for you, we’d still be stuck with 1950-era medicine. We would have never learned that migraine isn’t a vascular disease or that there is no such thing as a “migraine personality.” Because a portion of your profits fund migraine research, you are helping to break the stigma of living with migraine by finding out the truth. Because of you, we can now say, “Migraine is a genetic, neurological condition.”

That means a lot.

Patient Assistance Programs

New drugs cost a lot of money to develop. Their retail price tag is out of reach for so many patients. Thankfully, you care enough to create programs that help the poorest of us have access to effective treatments.

When I was uninsured for years, these programs helped me to afford the one abortive that actually worked. Now, a similar program is helping to offset the high cost of Botox treatments, saving my meager SSDI benefits for other important things…like food.

Improving Patient Morale

You’ve sponsored programs like Rewrite Your Day and The Migraine Experience. While no program is perfect, your efforts demonstrate to patients that you really do care.

I was one of the recipients of Rewrite Your Day. My friends still talk about that Christmas dinner party. It was a rare treat to spend time with so many of them all at once. You gave us all the gift of quality time spent without the threat of a looming migraine.

Fostering Hope

Because of you, migraine patients are on the verge of gaining treatments exclusively designed to prevent our attacks. You are making history and giving hope to those who have had none. The anticipation is almost unbearable. There are millions of us sitting on “pins and needles” just waiting for news that one of your CGRP-blocking drugs finally has FDA approval. You are running a marathon. We cheer for every success and are anxiously waiting for you at the finish line. I promise; the celebration will be huge.

You are our heroes and our hope for a better tomorrow. Thank you for never giving up.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Maureen
    3 years ago

    Topamax has made a big positive difference in the number and reduction in severity of my migraine attacks. I am very thankful for its development and use in the treatment of migraine.
    I’d prefer to not take a handful of pills morning and evening, but they help, so I take them. Thank you, pharmaceutical companies.

  • Marina
    3 years ago

    Correction,

    Sorry I meant to say Walter Fradin would be 95 years old this year if he is still alive! At the time of his comment in 2010, he was 89 years old! I was amazed he typed all that he did in his comment but I am glad he did and will be FOREVER grateful to Walter because he IS RIGHT!

    Marina

  • Tammy Rome author
    3 years ago

    Marina — Sorry for the confusion. I did have my first migraine at age 5 and was diagnosed at that time. It was 1975. Yet it wasn’t until 1995 (20 year later) at age 25 that I received my first dose of Imitrex. Just before my 30th birthday, I experienced a NEW headache disorder, cluster headache, and received that diagnosis and treatment. Theses are two completely different headache disorders beginning at different times in my life.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with migraine!

  • Marina
    3 years ago

    Dear Tammy,

    I am a stickler for facts. I was curious about this paragraph you wrote since it would mean you had your first migraine at five years old according to what you wrote in this article:

    “I will never forget the first time a migraine attack was aborted by a triptan. Within minutes, I went from agonizing pain, nausea, and photophobia to feeling perfectly fine. It was as close to a miracle that I’ve ever experienced. I cried for joy and hugged the nurse! I was 25 years old and had been treating migraine unsuccessfully for over two decades.”

    When I looked up your biography, it stated. “Tammy knows firsthand the toll that chronic migraine takes on a person’s life. She is a lifelong migraine patient and was diagnosed with cluster headaches in her early 30s.”

    Now I am to suppose you were only diagnosed with migraines while in your early 30’s, but have been a migraine sufferer since your were five years old according to the two decades you said you have suffered before your first triptan at the age of 25? I am intrigued about what they gave you at age five for your migraine. Or did you misstate the amount of years when you said two decades?

    Regarding this article, I have issue with the pharmaceutical companies because they create many drugs that are dangerous to people. Many of the drugs that are prescribed for migraines were never designed for migraine sufferers. I believe that the Imitrex shot is a “miracle” drug and do use it when I have to, but I would never consider any of the other drugs they give out that are really suppose to be used for something else. Topamax is one example. They don’t call it Dope-amax for nothing. Any doctor that prescribes that for migraines should be thrown in jail for negligence.

    Many migraine sufferers can truly change the number of migraines they eat by watching what they eat and not relying solely on drugs all the time. Basically a migraine suffer can not eat much in this world. I know, because I have restricted my diet so severely to limit the amount of migraines which I get. I eat no preservatives, NONE, nothing fermented, limit sugar to a fantastic degree, no SOY, take magnesium citrate every night and will go hungry instead of eating any processed food. One must make all their own dinners and basically stop eating out in restaurants and fast food is a no-no. If you make a mistake, you will pay for it with a migraine. I know. I keep a food diary. Food is the enemy. The weather is an enemy too, but how food is prepared today, unless you grow your own, makes food the enemy. Caffeine helps when it is in the medicine, so I do take only pills that have that as an ingredient.

    I have been fighting migraines since I was 16 and I can say they have only gotten worse since I have aged. I have lost countless days and days to the agony. That is why I have given up so many foods to get back some of my life.

    Now I will give you something that has changed my life. In my constant research regarding migraines I found this through an article from ‘The Daily Headache’, published November 6, 2007, which had this comment from a Walter Fradin who wrote it on April 10, 2010. He has pretty good typing skills for his age and only a few misspelled words. He would be 85 years ago this year and this one time World War II soldier has given me the greatest advice regarding migraine headaches since I found it on January 4, 2016:

    This was his comment:

    4-10-10
    THIS REALY HAPPENED 79 YEARS AGO

    WHEN I WAS 10 YEARS OLD, (I’M NOW 89) AFTER A ONE WEEK HEADACHE, MY MOTHER TOOK ME TO THE NEUROLOGICAL CENTER OF A MAJOR NYC HOSPITAL. THE IDIOT WHO EXAMINED ME, TOLD MY MOTHER, MY BRAIN WAS TOO BIG FOR MY SKULL, AND PUT ME ON PHENOBARBITAL.

    AS A FLYING OFFICER IN NEW GUINEA WWII, IN MY EMERGENCY KIT (PART OF MY PARACHUTE) I CARRIED 1,000 ASPIRIN, 10-100 PACKS (WRAPPED INSIDE CONDOMS TO KEEP THEM DRY) IN CASE I GOT SHOT DOWN. I WAS MORE AFRAID OF A MIGRAINE THAN OF THE JAPANESE AIR FORCE

    I SUFFERED MIGRAINES UNTIL ABOUT. 1960, WHEN A FRIENDS COMMENT LET SOME LIGHT IN.

    HE CASUALLY MENTIONED THAT EACH TIME HE DRANK DIET SODA, HE ITCHED,

    I SAID, MAYBE IT GIVES ME A HEADACHE, I DRANK SOME, AND EUREKA, A NEW WORLD OPENED UP, IT WAS THE BEGININING OF MY RESEARCH, AND SUCCESS IN BECOMING HEADACHE FREE.

    PLEASE NOTE, I DO NOT PUSH THE USE OF ANY MEDICATION. I DID USE PAIN KILLERS WHEN NECESSARY.

    THE LESSON BEGINS.

    CHEMICAL FOOD ADDITIVES ARE A MAJOR CAUSE OF HEADACHES, YOU DON’T NEED MEDICATION FOR A HEADACHE YOU DO NOT HAVE.

    THE FOLLOWING ARE NO-NO’S I HAVE PERSONALLY FOUND. YOU WILL DISCOVER MORE THINGS THAT ARE PERSONAL TO YOU.

    MSG (MONO SODIUM GLUTAMATE).
    THIS IS #1 THE WORST CULPRIT.

    SACCHARINE, SPLENDA, (SWEET AND LOW OR ASPERTAME), OR (OTHER SUGAR SUBSTITUTES).

    SUGAR FREE CANDY, AND SUGAR FREE BAKED GOODS, THEY USE SACCHARINE, ASPERTAME. OR OTHER SUGAR SUBSTITUTE

    SODIUM NITRATE, AND SODIUM NITRITE, USED AS PRESERVATIVES IN DELI, AND SMOKED FISH (LOX, WHITEFISH).

    SODIUM BENZOATE, SULFITES, AND SULFIDES, (ANTI-OXIDANTS) ARE USED AS PRESERVATIVES IN PICKLES AND WINE, AND MANY, MANY OTHER CANNED OR BOTTLED FOODS.

    SULPHUR DIOXIDE, A SULFITE, – USED IN DRY APRICOTS, AND OF RECENT TIME, ALL DRY FRUITS.

    GOOGLE ANY AND EVERY COLOR OR FLAVOR ADDITIVE, NO MATTER HOW NOTHING IT SOUNDS. A PLAIN BUTTER POUND CAKE (ENTEMANNS) HAS FOOD COLORS, AND MAKES ME ILL

    COUGH SYRUPS, AND COUGH DROPS THAT MAKE ME ILL. HALLS COUGH DROPS, AND ROBITUSSIN COUGH SYRUP, HAVE RED COLORING.

    FOODS, AND MEDICATIONS HAVE COLOR ADDITIVES, WHICH ARE SULFITE RELATED.

    THE COLOR ADDITIVES INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO BLUE, RED, CARMEL,YELLOW, GREEN COLORS, ETC. ADD FLAVOR ADDITIVES TO THE LIST.

    SOME SOUND SO INNOCUOUS, YOU PAY NO ATTENTION TO THEM. GOOGLE THEM, YOU WILL BE STUNNED. YOU WILL FIND THEY ARE ALL MADE USING COAL TAR, AND “SULFITES”, DANGEROUS CHEMICALS.

    BE AWARE THAT THE USE OF THE ABOVE ADDITIVES IS CUMULATIVE IN THE SENSE THAT A+B CAN BE THE SAME AS 2X A OR 2X B ETC.

    ALL WINES, SULFITES ARE USED AS A PRESERVATIVE. RED SEEMS TO BE
    MORE “VIRULENT”.

    YEAST, A MAJOR CULPRIT. BEER, WINE, HAVE YEAST AND ARE NO NO’S.

    ALL SODA POP, THAT CONTAINS SODIUM BENZOATE, ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS SUCH AS, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, SACCHARINE, SPLENDA OR ASPERTAME .

    CANNED TUNA FISH HAS AN ADDITIVE CALLED HYDROGOLIZED PROTEIN, OTHER FOOD USE AUTOLIZED YEAST, THESE ARE SNEAKY WORDS FOR FORMS OF GLUTAMATE.

    EATING OUT CAN BE VERY DIFFICULT, YOU MUST PICK SPOTS WHERE YOU ARE SURE OF THE INGREDIENTS USED.

    EAT NO SOUP IN A RESTAURANT, NEVER TRUST A WAITER WHO SAYS THE SOUP WAS MADE FROM SCRATCH, WITHOUT MAJOR QUESTIONING IT USUALLY IS MADE FROM CANNED STOCK (WHICH HAS MSG), AND THEN FROM “SCRATCH”. ASK TO SEE THE CAN.

    NO SALAD DRESSING (OTHER THAN OIL AND VINEGAR) IN A RESTAURANT. THERE IS NO WAY YOU CAN READ THE LABELS. THE SALAD DRESSINGS MANY TIMES CONTAIN MSG AND OR PRESERVATIVES.

    NEVER EAT BREADED (BREAD CRUMBS) FRIED FOODS IN RESTAURANTS, THE BREADING SOMETIMES HAS MSG IN IT.

    I WASH WITH DETERGENT, ALL FRUIT, WHERE I EAT THE PEEL. THIS INCLUDES PEACHES, AND GRAPES. THERE ARE MANY PESTICIDES, AND ANTI-OXIDANTS (sulfites), THAT MAKE ME ILL. I RINSE THEM WELL AFTER THE SOAPING. THIS IS MORE SO IN OFF SEASON, WHEN FRUITS ARE IMPORTED FROM SOUTH AMERICA.

    WHEN IN DOUBT, ABOUT ANY FOOD, DON’T EAT IT, THE PRICE IS TO HIGH. READ EVERY LABEL ON EVERY CAN AND ANY PACKAGED FOOD PRODUCT, YOU BRING INTO THE HOUSE.

    I RECENTLY CHECKED IN AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT, CANNED SNAILS AND CLAMS, HAD BISULFITES ADDDED AS A PRESERVATIVE.

    THERE ARE OTHER FOODS THAT YOU MAY HAVE A PERSONAL SENSITIVITY TO, OR MANY OF THE LISTED FOOD YOU DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM WITH, YOU CAN ONLY FIND THESE BY
    DIARYING THE FOOD YOU EAT, EACH TIME YOU HAVE A HEADACHE, OR COUGHING SPELL.

    I CAN’T EMPHASIZE ENOUGH HOW PRODUCTIVE AND HELPFUL DIARYING CAN BE. IF YOU START COUGHING, OR GET A HEADACHE, GO BACK MINUTES TO 3-4 HOURS. YOU WILL BE AMAZED.

    CARRY A SMALL NOTE PAD, WHEN YOU GET A HEADACHE, GO BACK IN TIME, 4-6 HOURS, AND WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU ATE, OR DRANK. KEEP TRACK OF THE OCCASIONS, A PATTERN CAN EMERGE.LOOK NFOR ADDITIVES, GOOGLE THEM, THIS IS PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT ADVICE IN THIS LETTER

    DON’T BE AFRAID, OR ASHAMED TO ASK, (EVEN AS A GUEST AT A DINNER PARTY) WHAT WAS USED IN THE PREPARATION OF THE SERVED FOOD. I GO AS FAR AS TO ASK TO SEE THE LABELS.
    IF YOU CAN’T HANDLE IT, JUST DO NOT EAT SUSPECT FOOD.

    TRY IT MY WAY, I STILL GET AN OCCASIONAL HEADACHE. WHEN I’M CARELESS, BUT I’M ABOUT 98% HEADACHE FREE. YOU’LL BE SURPRISED HOW QUICKLY YOU GET TUNED IN, AS YOUR FREQUENCY OF HEADACHES DIMINISH.

    REMEMBER LOOK AT THE LABEL OF EVERY FOOD, OR MEDICATION YOU BRING HOME.

    AS TO NASAL DRIP, COUGHING ETC, AVOID ALL FRAGRANCES. SOAP, HAIR SPRAY, LAUNDRY DETERGENT, HAND CREAMS, SUN TAN LOTIONS EVERYTHING OF THIS NATURE, CAN BE BOUGHT FRAGRANCE FREE.

    THERE IS NO WAY TO AVOID THE OUTSIDE WORLD, CLEANING MATERIALS, (BIG TIME CULPRIT). FLOWERS AND TREES GROW. I USE A MEDICATION CALLED ASTELINE, I FIND IT HELPFUL.

    USE YOUR HEAD, WHEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM TRY TO FIND OUT IF YOU CREATED THE PROBLEM.

    NOT VERY EASY. IT AINT PERFECT, BUT THESE TIPS WILL HELP YOU, YOU MUST HELP YOURSELF BY CHECKING ANYTHING NEW. BE ALERT. YOU ARE THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS. YOU DIDN’T BECOME A PILOT BECAUSE YOU ARE A DUMMY, IF YOU CONTINUE TO GET HEADACHE AFTER YOU APPLY MY PRINCIPALS, IT’S BECAUSE YOU WERE CARELESS WITHTHE NO NO’S. REMEMBER A HEADACHE YOU DO NOT GET NEEDS NO TREATMENT.

    PLEASE CALL ME, OR WRITE, IF THERE IS ANYTHING YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND

    I thank Walter everyday. I give this letter out to any migraine sufferer I know. His wise words will change your life and anyone else who reads this. One can not control the weather, but one CAN control what one puts into their mouths.

    Marina

  • Jani8
    3 years ago

    I,too remember my first Triptan shot. My pain was gone in 30 minutes. It felt like a miracle to me! It revolutionized my life. I was able to work all 40 hours of my week. I didn’t worry so much about disappointing my friends and family if I couldn’t do things with then. When the pills came out it was even better. I have tried Botox and I think it makes the migraines better. I’ll keep trying. I applaud the companies that do the research and come up with new treatments. They saved my life.

  • Hope and a Prayer
    3 years ago

    Recently, the negative responses that Excedrin Migraine got for its Migraine Experience really bothered me. What I was hearing was that it wasn’t enough; what I want to say is that it was something. My brother watched the video and his email to me after clearly showed that it had an impact, that he understood the migraine experience: “I will always have the images from those videos in my mind when I hear of you or my assistant or others suffering from a migraine”.
    I know I’ve criticized pharmaceutical companies, who often get vilified and are the fodder for conspiracy theories, but your well-written post helped me to shift my focus to gratitude. How much better for me to stop expecting perfection and start accepting, gratefully, the progress that has been made.

  • Poll