Pharmaceutical company Allergan has announced that Botox has been cleared for the treatment of chronic migraine. The licensing of this product was given the go-ahead by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
The use of Botox will be limited to those sufferers who have headaches for at least 15 days of every month with eight of them being migraines. The licensing of the product for chronic headaches is unique to the UK and it will be used as a means of prevention.
I contacted Migraine Action for their comments on this on this and Dr Andy Dowson, who is Chairman of Migraine Action's Medical Advisory Board, said:
"The licence for Botox in chronic migraine is welcome. For headache there have been very few new options made available in the last 5 years despite the huge effort from scientists and the Pharmaceutical industry to make breakthroughs in the field."
Around 1,384 people took part in the clinical trial and were given Botox injections or a placebo. The study spanned 56 weeks and those given the Botox gained significant benefits in the way they felt. At the end of the 56 week trial 70 percent of those given the Botox had seen a 50% reduction in migraines across the course of a month.
Is is thought that Botox works by blocking the neurotransmitters or chemical messages to the brain which can trigger off the cycle of pain.
Although it is more commonly used as a cosmetic treatment it has long been used in medicine. For more than a decade Botox has been used to help with muscle spasms because of its relaxant effects and for conditions such as cerebral palsy and for stroke patients.
Lee Tomkins, the Director of Migraine Action said:
"The licence of Botox as a preventative treatment for chronic migraineurs is a really important step forward. Chronic sufferers are always aiming to get more “crystal clear” headache-free days each month and this treatment will help them to achieve that. Botox will give many chronic migraineurs a new lease of life where individuals will be able to make more plans and not be so debilitated by their condition.”
Wendy Thomas, Chief Executive of the Migraine Trust, said:
“Chronic migraine is currently an under-researched, under-diagnosed and under-
treated condition. We know that treatment with acute pain medication does not always work for these
patients so we welcome new therapies, especially preventative medication, for this potentially disabling condition."