The Current State of Migraine Shows Much to Overcome

Today’s guest blog comes from Eric Pearlman, M.D., Ph.D., Lilly's U.S. senior medical director of neuroscience

This week, thousands of healthcare professionals, advocates and researchers will arrive in Philadelphia for the American Headache Society (AHS) 61st Annual Scientific Meeting. In the city of brotherly love, they’ll discuss the latest and most up-to-date research and scientific advances underlying the practice of headache medicine. Considering recent momentum in the field, there is much to talk about.

After years of limited innovation, ground-breaking research has brought not only new treatments for, but a new understanding about, some of the most disabling, costly headache disorders, including migraine. For too long, many living with migraine have done so with less than optimal outcomes, while also living under a cloud of unfair judgment. It’s critical we accelerate the momentum of the scientific research and at the same time, advance our understanding about the societal and personal toll of these disease.

During AHS, Lilly will share initial results from the OVERCOME (Observational Survey of the Epidemiology, Treatment and Care of Migraine) study. The study is designed to provide a current, real-world view of the burden of migraine and stigma experienced by people living with the disease. It also looks to understand the barriers to appropriate treatment and how the introduction of novel treatment options may influence delivery of migraine care. OVERCOME aims to be the largest U.S. study of its kind in the field of migraine with more than 60,000 people involved from 2018 to 2022.

The initial data are compelling.

  • Rising rates of opioid use among people living with migraine despite opioids typically being reserved for limited or highly specific uses in the treatment of migraine.
  • Inconsistent care patterns, including high use of emergency department/urgent care settings, may be contributing to misdiagnosis, sub-optimal treatment and increased healthcare utilization.
  • Discriminating attitudes towards people with migraine, unconscious or otherwise, are deep-rooted and advanced by a lack of understanding about the disease.


What OVERCOME shows is that although more than 30 million American adults live with migraine, the disease is often misunderstood, undertreated and stigmatized. We need a new scientific and societal understanding to appropriately frame the burden of migraine and improve its diagnosis and treatment. This requires a call for better education, better treatment options and better access to care.

The data from OVERCOME and other real-world research helps to further our understanding of the burden, stigma and barriers faced by people living with migraine. This type of research – and at this scale – is crucial to continuing our understanding of the disease and ultimately, closing the treatment gap in migraine.

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