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Neurol Sci. 2017 May;38(Suppl 1):15-20. doi: 10.1007/s10072-017-2908-7.

Community pharmacies as epidemiological sentinels of headache: first experience in Italy.

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Department of Scienza e Tecnologia del Farmaco, University of Turin, Via P. Giuria n. 9, 10125, Turin, Italy.
Order of Pharmacists of Turin, Turin, Italy.
Department of Scienza e Tecnologia del Farmaco, University of Turin, Via P. Giuria n. 9, 10125, Turin, Italy.
Department of Surgical Sciences, Women's Headache Center, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
FI.CEF Onlus, Milan, Italy.
Epidemiology Unit, ASL TO3, Grugliasco, Italy.
Order of Pharmacists of Turin, Turin, Italy.
FOFI, Federation of the Orders of Italian Pharmacists, Rome, Italy.
ATF Informatics, Cuneo, Italy.
Federfarma Piemonte, Turin, Italy.


Migraine is a disabling neurovascular syndrome which affects 12-15% of the global population and it represents the third cause in years lived with disability in both males and females aged 15-49 years. Among migraineurs, the symptomatic drug abuse may be a risk factor in the development of medication overuse headache (MOH). Detecting cases of MOH is not straightforward; community pharmacists may, therefore, be in a strategic position to identify individuals who self-medicate, particularly with respect to prevent the development of MOH. In 2014, our group published the results of a survey conducted in Piedmont, Italy, on the patterns of use and dispensing of drugs in patients requesting assistance from pharmacists for relief of a migraine attack. We decided, now, to expand the scope of the model to a national level. The study is based on cross-sectional face-to-face interviews using questionnaires, presented in this paper, consisting of a first part regarding the socio-economic situation and a second part which aimed to classify the disease and any excessive use of drugs. Of the 610 pharmacists trained with an online course, 446 gathered a total of 4425 correctly compiled questionnaires. The participation of community pharmacies has highlighted various criticalities especially of an organisational nature; however, it also revealed the power of this method as a means of gathering epidemiological data with a capillarity which few other methods can match. The objective was also to identify each territory's requirements and facilitate the decision-making process in terms of understanding what patients/citizens actually require.


Community pharmacy; Medication overuse headache; Migraine

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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