PCORI Migraine Grant Approved

Clinical researcher Dr. Todd Schwedt and his team at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ have won a $7 million grant from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI). The grant will focus on determining the optimal treatment strategy for patients who have Chronic Migraine with medication overuse. It is expected to take five years to complete. Years of small trials and research were required before submitting the grant proposal to PCORI. It’s been a long road and the Migraine community is grateful that the study will be moving forward.

This topic is of great importance. For those of us who experience 15 or more headache/migraine days per month, it is very hard to not reach for an abortive medication, even if they give us relief for a short period of time. However, using too many rescue meds can lead to Medication Overuse Headache (MOH), which actually exacerbates the Migraine, making the recovery much harder on the patient. MOH can also lead to side effects, other than increased headaches, and a solution or best practice has not yet been developed.

The study will compare two strategies for dealing with MOH in Chronic Migraine patients to determine which approach is more successful. According to the PCORI summary, this two-part study will explore:

  1. “Early discontinuation of the overused medication plus treatment with migraine prophylactic therapy.
  2. “Migraine prophylactic therapy without early discontinuation of the overused medication.”

Both methods are commonly used, however, it is uncertain which one has better outcomes.

To put the gravity of this study into perspective, the NIH only allots about $13 Million toward Migraine research per year, or $0.55 per person with Migraines. Funding from the NIH does not go far in advancing new treatments or medications in our community.

Recently, Leonard and Wendy Goldberg endowed $8 Million to UCLA for the sole purpose of Headache and Migraine research. A gift of this size for Migraines from private donors is very rare.

PCORI offers a wide range of grants for many healthcare issues. The grants focus on conditions that affect large numbers of people, conditions with heavy burden on society and rare diseases. Grant awards range from $250,000 to upwards of $10-$40 Million. The $7 Million grant is the largest award towards Migraine research that PCORI has every given. Receiving this $7 Million grant will make a huge impact on the lives of Migraineurs.

You may have heard Dr. Schwedt’s name before. Last year I was able to attend the American Headache Society’s annual meeting, where Dr. Schwedt was presented with the prestigious Wolff Award for his work on the “Accurate Classification of Chronic Migraine via Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” At this point MRIs and CT scans are used to rule out other reasons for a patient to be experiencing head pain (such as a tumor). The study that Dr. Schwedt presented found biomarkers that could diagnose and sub-classify Migraine in Chronic Migraine patients.

Dr. Todd Schwedt collaborates with many other notable researchers, such as Dr. David Doddick, who provide support and insights for the work.  The American Headache Society (AHS) has endorsed this project along with the patient-centered organization American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA). I personally wrote a letter of recommendation on behalf of Migraine.com emphasizing the need for this study and promising to disseminate information about the study through each step. Many patients and advocates will be consulted during the clinical trial process.

You can read more about the grant that aims to “Determine the Optimal Treatment Strategy for Patients Who Have Chronic Migraine with Medication Overuse,” here: http://www.pcori.org/research-results/2016/determining-optimal-treatment-strategy-patients-who-have-chronic-migraine

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.

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