Botox for chronic migraine?

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.

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5 comments… add one

  • Erin Sep 22, 2008

    I had botox injections in my trigger points as part of a headache study. I got two series of injections all over my back, neck, shoulders and even in the back of my head. The incidence and severity of my migraines (normally 2-4 per week) decreased significantly. The study would only allow me two series, and my insurance wouldn’t pay for it. I ponied up the $2500 for a third series, which helped, but I’m not rich so I’m looking for other alternatives, as there’s no way I can afford it. It definitely worked for me, though!!

  • Linda Sep 23, 2008

    Hi,

    I had botox injections on and around my fore head as well as a few in the back. Even though the correct dose was given, the treatment left me with droopy eyelids for over 6 months! I may have recieved some relief, but it definitely wasn’t worth it. My left eye is still not completely back to normal

  • James Sep 23, 2008

    Thanks for sharing, Erin and Linda.

    Linda, certainly every drug has some side effects, the question is – is it worth it for you. There’s one more thing about Botox too… I think this treatment really is still in its infancy. We still have a limited understanding of what works best for patients with headache or migraine. Where should the injections be? How often? These are questions that more research needs to answer. As the treatment gets more precise, I hope we’ll see less problems.

    Erin – yes, the expense is a constant problem with Botox. If it does prove to be effective for headache, I hope more insurance companies will see value in covering it.

  • Dalin Govea Jan 22, 2012

    I had my first series of botox shot for chronic migraines and will get the second series Feb. 11. I also experienced droopy eyelids its been four months will this be permanent?

    concerned

  • Ginger D. Jan 22, 2012

    I receive Botox for migraines and the injections have helped me tremendously. Without them, I was in bed the majority of the month. With the injections I am able to function again. I have headaches a feew days a month perhaps but that’s it – Botox helps and I am so thankful! I’ve recommended it to many others. Botox WORKS.

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