, Volume 22, Issue 15, pp 985-999
Date: 22 Sep 2012

Economic Impact of Migraine and Other Episodic Headaches in France

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Background: Migraine is a prevalent and incapacitating condition that affects individuals in the prime of their productive life, thus generating an economic burden for both society and healthcare systems. The direct annual healthcare costs of migraine in France were assessed over 10 years ago, and the current study updates these figures.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the economic cost (primarily direct costs) of migraine and other episodic headache in France based on a general population survey of headache, the GRIM2000 (Groupe de Researche Interdisciplinaire sur la Migraine).

Design: From a representative general population sample of 10 585 individuals aged ≥15 years in France in 1999, 1486 individuals experiencing headaches were identified and interviewed regarding healthcare resource consumption in the previous 6 months. By applying unit costs to the resource data, costings (in 1999 values) were determined for physician consultations, hospitalisation, medication use and diagnostic/laboratory tests, and evaluated from a healthcare system perspective. Information on absenteeism and lost productivity was derived from the Migraine Disability Assessment Score (MIDAS) questionnaire.

Results: The prevalence of migraine (including migrainous disorder) was determined to be 17%. Total annual direct healthcare costs were estimated to be €128 per individual with migraine in 1999, corresponding to €1044 million when extrapolated to all individuals experiencing migraine and aged ≥15 years. Around two-thirds of this cost accrued to the social security system (€698 million; €85 per individual). The total annual direct cost of other forms of episodic headache was much lower at €28 per individual (social security cost €18); with a prevalence of 9.2%, the annual national direct cost for other forms of episodic headache totalled €124 million. The principal cost element was physician consultations. However, it was found that many individuals had never consulted a physician for their headaches, and self-medication contributed substantially to the medication costs (the second greatest cost factor for migraine). The cost per individual rose steeply with increasing severity of headache.

Conclusion: The direct healthcare costs of migraine do not seem to have risen significantly over the past decade. A small minority of individuals with more severe headaches consume most of the healthcare resources devoted to migraine, while most individuals generate relatively low direct costs. The total annual direct costs in France for migraine are almost 10-fold higher than those of other episodic headache.