The fight continues to get Botox officially recognized as a migraine treatment. On the 11th of September, the makers of Botox (Allergan) announced a new study that showed that patients using Botox had significantly fewer days with headaches (attacks?) than those who used a placebo.
The study, however, is being met with a great deal of suspicion. Why?
The problem is that an earlier study seemed to show that Botox didn’t make much of a difference. But the old study was calculating the number of migraine episodes, not the number of days. Is Allergan just tweaking the system to try to get numbers that work?
Well, obviously they have a vested interest. But don’t be quick to write off this study.
The truth is that the people “on the ground” – doctors and patients – have seen Botox work, and not just occasionally. Dr. Alexander Mauskop of the New York Headache Clinic is more optimistic. His clinic took part in the trial. He writes regarding the new Botox trial:
This report did not surprise us or our colleagues who routinely use Botox in treating patients with chronic migraines. The excitement we feel is due to the fact that many of our colleagues have been sceptical about the efficacy of Botox. Much more importantly, we hope that this definitive study will compel insurance companies to pay for this treatment.
This may simply be a matter of learning, little by little, exactly who Botox works for, and what its limitations are. Just because it doesn’t work for everyone, doesn’t mean it won’t help many.
The stakes are high as we continue to study Botox. If it really is effective for migraine, the cost is prohibitive for many people. But the company plans to file a license application with the American FDA in 2009, followed by applications in Canada and Europe, for use with chronic migraine.
Read more about Botox for migraine here.