Lately, I have been in far too many debates about the language of migraine. Too many because they’re exhausting, and because the vast majority of them I shouldn’t be having.
I’ve fought many fights over the years. Big banks, internet filters, even fighting to save the Democrats. It’s not often you win these kinds of fights. But this fight I simply have to.
I’ve been doing a whole lot of emotional bleating about #MigraineLove – the #NoAimovigNoVote petition I started to get funding for migraine research and awareness, and importantly, to get the new breakthrough class of medications to prevent migraine on the PBS. The only one of this new CGRP class currently available in Australia is Aimovig – hence, no Aimovig, no vote. (Emgality has been approved by the TGA to be available 1 June.)
This is a long post, so here are the bullet points:
- There’s a new class of medication, called CGRP (Calcitonin Gene-Related Peptide) medications, that prevent migraine attacks. They are the first drugs ever developed to specifically prevent migraine attacks, and they work. The three brand names either available now or soon are Aimovig, Emgality and Ajovy.
- 4.9m Australians suffer from migraine, most of them working age women. Around 400,000 Australians are significantly disabled by chronic or serious forms of migraine.
- Migraine costs the Australian economy $35b a year, most in lost productivity.
- Listing the entire class of medications is likely to cost a billion dollars.
- Listing these meds on the PBS just for chronic and severe patients will potentially save the federal budget $1.4b in up front savings, plus flow on benefits from increased tax revenue and productivity, and decreased impact on the health system.
- Listing these meds for episodic (less than 15 migraine days per month) will unlock even greater economic benefits, including contributing to decreasing the gender pay gap.
- There’s a significant access issue that needs to be addressed: there aren’t enough neurologists, especially in rural areas.
I’ve been highly distracted with policy of late (perhaps staring at polling and voter behaviour every day for nearly two years now is finally getting to me…) so I’m just going to write up a little policy rant to try and get it out of my system and get back to work. Policy area of choice: regional development, decentralisation and population.
It has been insanely difficult for me to sit on the sidelines of the Wentworth by-election. Yes, I’ve made many comments on Twitter – most are just observations, or analysis, but I’ve tried hard not to be perceived as favouring any particular candidate.