Patients and pharmacists have welcomed a decision to reclassify a migraine medication, so that it can now be obtained without a prescription.
Migraine is a neurological condition that involves a throbbing, severe headache, along with other symptoms which can include nausea, light sensitivity and dizziness.
Furthermore, 20% of sufferers also experience aura, a condition that precedes the migraine. Symptoms of this can include visual disturbances, loss of speech and partial paralysis.
An estimated half a million people in Ireland are affected and the condition can be extremely debilitating.
The Migraine Association of Ireland (MAI) and the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU), have been calling for the reclassification of the medication, sumatriptan, for some time now.
It helps to treat the headache, while also relieving other symptoms such as nausea and light sensitivity. However previously, it was only available with a prescription.
"Treating migraine as soon as it appears is often the key to effectively managing a migraine. When sumatriptan was prescription only, people were often unable to obtain it when it was most needed," explained IPU president, Daragh Connolly.
He insisted that now that the treatment is available over the counter in pharmacies, patients will be able to obtain it when they need it.
Meanwhile, the MAI said that any increased access to appropriate migraine medication ‘will be a significant benefit to patients in Ireland'.
"As a migraine can strike at practically any time, it is reassuring to know that there is now a treatment available without prescription, from community pharmacies nationwide.
"If people do feel they are suffering from migraine, then they should consult with their GP or community pharmacist in the first instance to ensure they identify their triggers and they are receiving appropriate and effective medication," commented MAI chief executive, Patrick Little.
Sumatriptan is used for the acute treatment of migraine attacks with or without aura, in patients who have a stable and well established pattern of symptoms. It can only be obtained without prescription from pharmacies where there has been a previous diagnosis of migraine by a doctor.
People looking for advice or support in relation to any aspect of migraine, can call the MAI's Information and Support Line on 1850 200 378. For more information on the MAI, click here