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Drug availability through expanded marketplace 

Drug availability through expanded marketplace
Drug availability through expanded marketplace

Lars J Stovner

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date: 25 September 2018

In most rich and industrialized countries, migraine and other headaches have during the later part of the last century gradually been acknowledged as proper diseases. However, the health care resources dedicated to headache are still not felt to be proportional to the size of the problem. In these countries, progress in the handling of headaches have largely been achieved through better diagnostic tools and by the introduction of triptans for migraine and cluster headache attacks, prophylactic medication for frequent and chronic headache, and increased awareness about the risk of medication overuse. The pharmaceutical industry has played an important role in this development. With the introduction of new drugs, it has been in the interests of the industry to promote awareness of headache as a personal and public health problem; furthermore, in collaboration with committed headache experts and patient organizations, knowledge about how to diagnose and handle headache has increased among both health professionals and the general public.

In most parts of the world, however, headache is still not considered a proper disease, presumably because other health problems are felt to be of greater priority. The situation may also to some degree be explained by insufficient knowledge about how headache affects the well-being and health state of the citizens and by the fact that there are few or no headache experts and no patient organizations. The lack of knowledge may partly be the result of lack of interest from the pharmaceutical industry to develop the headache drug markets in these parts of the world, probably because of the low purchasing power of these markets. With the rapid economical development in many of the third world countries (China, India, Latin America) and in Russia and other former USSR countries, this situation is rapidly changing. In this perspective, this chapter tries to assess these potential markets by summarizing what is known of headache prevalence and burden worldwide and also about the consumption of headache drugs in the these parts of the world. As limited availability of affordable drugs is the main barrier against a better headache treatment in many parts of the world, it is contended that a drug pricing policy that would make modern headache medicines affordable to large segments of the population in these markets could be highly profitable for the industry and constitute a great leap forward for the many headache sufferers of these countries.

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