U.S. medical research funding is decreasing and some diseases are horribly underfunded, according to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) last Tuesday. When it comes to migraine research, The Washington Post’s headline on the report is telling: How the U.S. Underfunds Research for Migraines, Asthma and Depression. As headache specialist Robert Shapiro, M.D. (@headachedoc) pointed out on Twitter, no major disease is as underfunded as migraine is. It’s “almost off-the-charts.” Literally. Take a look at where migraine appears on this chart.
In a related tweet, Dr. Shapiro notes that although migraine and schizophrenia have the same disease burden, NIH funding for schizophrenia is 12 times higher than it is for migraine.
It’s impossible to read those numbers and not get angry. Especially knowing these numbers:
- Given current population statistics, nearly 38 million Americans have migraine.
- As many as 15 million Americans have chronic migraine.
- Migraine costs the U.S. more than 29 billion dollars a year in medical expenses and lost productivity.
- Migraine is by far the most disabling of all neurological disorders.
- Migraine is the third most common disorder on the planet.
- Migraine is the seventh highest cause of disability worldwide.
- Severe, continuous migraine is as disabling as quadriplegia, active psychosis, and dementia and is more disabling than blindness or paraplegia, according to the World Health Organization’s disease burden assessment.
Migraine is not a measly little headache. It is not inconsequential. I have lived with the devastation of severe, continuous migraine. I often wondered if it was a life worth living. Too many people with chronic migraine decide that it isn’t. Will lawmakers ever see our desperation and need? If so, will they ever act on it?
References for migraine stats:
- 36 Million Migraine Campaign brochure
- WHO: Current and Future Worldwide Prevalence of Dependency, Relationship to Total Population, and Dependency Ratios