Lilly, Amgen and more back advocacy group's push to double migraine research dollars

Twenty researchers and medical professionals from AMD are working to find gaps in migraine research to inform future projects. (AMD)

When it comes to neurologic diseases, migraine gets only about half the funding that others get. But a new campaign looks to challenge that reality with the fundraising push "Research is Hope."

The effort comes from advocacy group Association of Migraine Disorders (AMD)—which is backed by most of the major migraine pharma players, including Eli Lilly, Allergan, Amgen, Novartis, Teva and Biohaven—and it doubles down on research with the promise to match every dollar donated up to $100,000.

While not endorsing any treatment, the association is focused on solving migraine problems for those for whom current medications haven’t worked. 

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As more information comes to light about migraine, the general public is finally starting to understand that it's more than a “bad headache" and rather a complex neurological disease, Rick Godley, M.D., founder and president of AMD. However, because migraine isn’t seen as life-threatening, it falls behind other neurologic diseases in funding by about 50% and its research community is small.

“Migraine is really quite a heterogeneous disease because it is based on all of these susceptibility genes. Rarely does any single gene do it—it's just a whole combination of different genes—so the varieties of presentations of migraine are legend,” he said.

Despite the need for this research, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time to ask people for donations, Godley admits. However, the group decided to launch on Giving Tuesday in the hopes of attracting attention for the project and its matching donations. 

The AMD research committee consists of 20 researchers and medical professionals who are working to identify gaps in migraine research to help inform future projects.

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The pharma company sponsors are content to donate and not get directly involved, which Godley said he is thankful for. But there are indirect benefits for the pharmas that comes from AMD’s research. One is the patient registry that the association is currently compiling in hopes of finding specific biomarkers that indicate migraine.

“That's an opportunity for pharmaceutical companies because it means that there are other targets out there that if they can figure out which one or two are important and how to deliver the right next molecule, that there are more blockbuster treatments therapies out there,” Godley said.