Background.—Although migraine headaches affect a large segment of the population, no objective measure of therapeutic success is currently available. Comparing visit frequency and associated costs of care before and after introduction of a new therapy represents an important surrogatemeasure of success.
Methods.—One hundred four patients regularly attending a headache clinic for migraines at a tertiary care hospital were instructed in the use of a new abortive migraine therapy. Medical appointment and financial systems were searched retrospectively for visit frequency and associated patient care and institutional costs. The number of visits and mean costs 18 months before and after initiation of therapy were compared using the signed rank test and paired t-test, respectively.
Results.—The median number of visits made by study subjects to the headache clinic fell significantly following sumatriptan test dosing (P<0.001). Prior to the new treatment, mean total patient care and institutional costs were $228.59 and $112.81 per person, respectively, and fell to $135.93 and $78.16 (P<0.001) after therapy began.
Conclusions.—These data suggest that many patients with migraine benefit from sumatriptan, seek medical attention in a headache clinic less often, and incur fewer costs following initiation of treatment with this drug.