How Pharmacists Can Provide Migraine and Headache Relief


Shivang Joshi, MD, MPH, RPh, FAHS discusses how pharmacists can utilize their role as the most accessible health care professional to provide care to patients with migraine, as well as resources to enhance awareness and education.

There’s a widening gap between people needing headache specialists and the number of headache specialists available to provide care. As of 2020 in the US, there were only 564 United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties accredited headache specialists, while projections estimate a need for 4500 by 2040.1 Fortunately, pharmacists are well positioned to address this growing need.

With their expertise and accessibility, pharmacists can explain migraine triggers, treatment options, and safe medication use to those living with migraine; they can also help patients sift through OTC brands and formulations to find the best fit.

“I think pharmacists play a very key role in health care delivery,” said Shivang Joshi, MD, MPH, RPh, FAHS, in an interview with Drug Topics for National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. “And part of that is if they see that a patient is consuming a lot of OTC analgesic medications with caffeine in them, or just a lot of medications, they might want to have a conversation and say, ‘Hey, maybe this is not working for you. There are better migraine medications available.’”

Joshi is the director of headache medicine and director of clinical research at Community Neuroscience Services in Westborough, Massachusetts. He’s also an ambassador for Shades for Migraine, a global campaign aimed at spreading awareness and education for people living with migraine,2 and an Association of Migraine Disorders board member. According to him, anyone—pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, health care providers, patients—can get involved for Shades for Migraine, and look cool doing so.

“[Shades for Migraine] runs during the month of June, which is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month,” he says. “You can post a photo wearing sunglasses [on social media] with #ShadesForMigraine, and by doing so you’ll show your support for anyone that’s living with migraines. You also create some more awareness for research, as well.”

READ MORE: Headache and Migraine Resource Center

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1. Huang H, Minen MT. Eleven reasons people decide to choose headache medicine: There may be a headache medicine provider shortage but there are ways to foster interest. Headache. 2020;60(8):1846-1852. doi:10.1111/head.13838
2. Shades for Migraine. Accessed June 20, 2024.
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