Is Medication Overuse Drug Specific or Not? Data from a Review of Published Literature and from an Original Study on Italian MOH Patients
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Purpose of Review
The aim is twofold. First, to give an insight on the role exerted by different classes of drugs in favouring migraine chronification. Second, to explore the relationship between type and amount of overused medications and history of previous withdrawal treatment and of frequent relapses.
All drug classes were found to favour migraine chronification. No data are available for the association with relapses into CM-MOH. Our clinical study shows that patients who underwent previous withdrawal treatments were more likely to be overusers of multiple drug classes and overuse higher amounts of symptomatic medications, particularly, indomethacin, eletriptan and tramadol. Frequent relapsers were more likely to be overusers of opioids or ergotamine and caffeine derivates or of multiple classes, particularly acetylsalicylic acid and ergotamine/caffeine derivates.
The joint results our review and clinical study do not seem to support the idea that MOH is drug-specific: rather, it points out that all drug classes may induce migraine chronification. Those drugs which are at higher risk of overuse are among those preferred by the “worst” patients, i.e. those who needed one or more withdrawal treatments for MOH. Our results reinforce the clinical impression that patients with CM and MOH, and particularly the most difficult to treat for their poor response to withdrawal treatments, are characterised by a particular drive towards the consumption of “whatever is likely to be perceived to provide some relief”, despite these drugs that are perceived as “more powerful”, are often indicated as second- or third-line medications.
KeywordsChronic migraine Medication-overuse headache Triptans Anti-inflammatory drugs Opioids Withdrawal
Compliance with Ethical Standards
The protocol was approved by the Besta Institute Ethical Committee (protocol no. 379/2015).
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent
This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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