Ergotamine Use and Overuse in Taiwan: A Retrospective Cohort Study

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Objective

The aim of this study was to investigate the pattern of ergotamine prescription and overuse in Taiwan.

Background

Ergotamine is a frequently prescribed medication for the treatment of migraine, although excessive use may lead to medication-overuse headache.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective cohort study by using the Longitudinal Health Insurance Database 2005 in Taiwan. Patients enrolled in the study were between the ages of 18 and 80 years, received at least two prescriptions of ergotamine, and follow-up for more than 1 year at outpatient clinics during 1999 to 2013. Each ergotamine prescription was converted into a defined daily dose (DDD) and patients were sorted into two groups: occasional users, having fewer than 3 consecutive months of use, and regular users, with 3 consecutive months of use or more. Regular users were further divided into overusers (DDDs ≥ 10 per month) and non-overusers.

Results

A total of 41,023 migraine patients were enrolled in the study; 5803 patients were classified as regular users, with 859 of those being overusers. Of the ergotamine overusers, around 698/859 (82%) continued to use, and 443/859 (52%) remained overusers of ergotamine in the subsequent year after the index date. The most frequently prescribed prophylactic medications were propranolol and flunarizine, which were prescribed in 30.4% and 20.0% of overuse patients, respectively.

Conclusions

Ergotamine overuse remains common in Taiwan, while prophylactic medicine is still underutilized. More education on ergotamine-overuse headache is needed to improve awareness.

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