COMPARING THE FINANCIAL COSTS OF PRESCRIPTION DRUGS VERSUS BEHAVIORAL OPTIONS FOR MIGRAINES
Treating chronic migraines with behavioral approaches – such as relaxation training, hypnosis and biofeedback – can make financial sense compared to prescription-drug treatment, especially after a year or more, a new study found.
Longtime behavioral therapy researcher and practitioner Dr. Donald Penzien, University of Mississippi Medical Center professor of psychiatry, coauthored the study. He said the costs of prescription prophylactic drugs – the kind chronic migraine sufferers take every day to prevent onset – may not seem much even at several dollars a day.
“But those costs keep adding up with additional doctor visits and more prescriptions,” Penzien said. “The cost of behavioral treatment is front-loaded. You go to a number of treatment sessions but then that’s it. And the benefits last for years.”
Published in the June issue of the journal Headache, the study compared the costs over time of several types of behavioral treatments with prescription-drug treatments. The research team included investigators from Wake Forest University, UMMC and the University of Mississippi.
The researchers found that after six months, the cost of minimal-contact behavioral treatment was competitive with pharmacologic treatments using drugs costing 50 cents or less a day. Minimal-contact treatment is when a patient sees a therapist a few times but largely practices the behavioral techniques at home, aided by literature or audio recordings.