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Excedrin Migraine Campaign Trivializes Migraine & the Women Who Experience it

Two-thirds of women would give up shopping at their favorite store for a year to stop their migraine attacks. Excedrin Migraine has launched an advertising campaign with this so-called fact. Seriously? The willingness to give up shopping at a single store exemplifies the impact of migraine a person’s life? Could they have trivialized migraine or women more?

Here are some real statistics from the World Health Organization:

Daily, migraineurs struggle against the misconception that migraine is “just a headache,” with families and employers who don’t believe or understand how ill they truly are. Advocates have begged Congress and the FDA to notice how debilitating and woefully underfunded this illness is. The last thing we need is an advertising campaign that diminishes the seriousness of migraine and the women who experience it.

The “fact” about shopping and migraine prickles another nerve by asking what someone would give up to eliminate migraines. For a year, I would live in a cave with no human contact, surviving on rats and cockroaches as my only food source. And, yes, I am completely serious, provided that I have fire to cook the rats. Unfortunately, migraine isn’t a game where you can choose your terms; treating it as one only increases the desperation and lack of control that someone this sick already feels.

If you are as horrified by Excedrin Migraine minimizing migraine and treating women as a superficial, please express your outrage on Excedrin’s Twitter and Facebook pages. A consumer boycott of the magnitude I’m likely to launch from The Daily Headache won’t have much of an impact on such large product, but commenting through social media will at least get their attention. As soon as I finish this blog post, that’s where I’m headed. And I still recommend voting with your pocketbook by buying a generic version or mixing your own (250 mg acetaminophen, 250 mg aspirin and 65 mg caffeine).

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Education or Advertising?

Pfizer, the maker of Relpax, announced a new migraine education – and advertising – campaign today. Called “Be Stronger Than Your Migraine,” the company says the campaign provides migraine patients with tools to identify how migraine affects their lives, recognize how they interfere with their own treatment and ways to have a better relationship with their doctors.

There’s not much information available on it yet, but I’ve requested the “toolkit.” At the surface, it appears to be little more than a direct-to-consumer drug ad. You know the line: If you tell your doctor to prescribe Relpax, you’ll be in control and your pain will go away.

Am I being cynical? Yes. Volatile? Certainly. I’m tired of drug companies and media outlets telling me that I just have to be strong and my headaches will go away. Yes, it’s important to be assertive with your doc and to think about ways to become more involved in your treatment. It’s also important to grieve the losses that you’ve had because of your headaches. And to think critically about who is giving you such advice.

Mostly I’m angry because Pfizer, like many other drug companies, is promoting the idea of the miracle cure for migraine. Relpax might be the drug that improves migraine pain. But it isn’t going to work for everyone. It’s dangerous to believe in a miracle cure, because you’ll be crushed if it doesn’t exist for you.

This might turn out to be a great and empowering campaign and I’ll have egg on my face. I’ll share the information with you when I receive the materials. You can also look into it for yourself. Yahoo! has the press release, the campaign site has an overview and the Relpax website has more detailed information.

I have a Relpax prescription waiting for me at the pharmacy. Who knows, maybe it’ll be my miracle drug. In any case, you should know that one of the reasons I started this blog is because so much migraine information online is from advertisements thinly disguised as education campaigns. You can be sure that I’ll never push one medication or treatment over another.