Migraine maven Lilly finds 'understanding gap' between patients, nonpatients in new survey

Eli Lilly
Migraine sufferers' pain is still misunderstood by nonpatients, according to a new survey from Eli Lilly. (Eli Lilly)

Disconnects still exist in perceptions around migraines. Surveying both migraine sufferers and average consumers, Eli Lilly found significant understanding gaps between the two.

For instance, migraine patients estimated their pain episodes lasted an average of 31 hours, while nonsufferers guessed the average fell around 21 hours. Migraine patients also rated the pain they felt much higher than the average person’s rating of what they imagined the pain to be.

“There is a huge stigma in migraine,” said Sheena Aurora, a physician who has treated migraine patients and is now a medical fellow at Eli Lilly. “… Sometimes even people with migraines don’t realize the impact of their disease. When I treated patients with migraines, I would ask them how many migraine headache days did they have, and they would have to stop and think about it.”

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Lilly undertook the survey to determine migraine perceptions among three groups of people: migraine sufferers, caregivers and loved ones, and consumers who didn’t know anyone who suffers from migraines.

Other poll findings included that migraine patients feel stressed and that they're missing out on life. Patients reported that migraines had prevented them from doing what they wanted in their lives for an average 7 days out of the previous 30 days.

During the previous year, the migraines had been severe enough to force them to miss an average of 7.4 important events, such as birthday or holiday gatherings. And an overwhelming majority—82%—agreed that it is stressful to have an unpredictable disease like migraine.

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“By highlighting their unmet needs and continuing to do that, then we can help patients talk to their physicians, help physicians recognize their impact and perhaps even help payers understand the impact of migraines,” Aurora said.

She noted that the survey and other studies around migraines are important as new treatments created specifically for migraines come to market. Of the four currently FDA-approved drugs, none were designed exclusively for migraines, a fact that is often seen in low adherence when patients can’t take the side effects or don’t get enough relief, Aurora said.

Lilly is currently working to bring a new class of migraine therapy to market. The Indianapolis drugmaker has already filed a Biologics License Application with the FDA for its CGRP inhibitor maintenance drug galcanezumab, which is eventually expected to go up against contenders from companies including Amgen and Teva.

Meanwhile, Lilly's first-in-class acute migraine candidate lasmiditan is in late-stage trials with expectations for FDA filings this year.