Now Allergan hopes to replicate the findings on a larger scale, and the company is currently running its own Phase 2 clinical trial. If its results are in line with Rosenthal and Finzi's, it would be huge, paving the way for Botox to obtain official approval for the drug as a depression treatment. That wouldn't change anything for doctors, of course--they can already prescribe it off-label, and some do, with great results--but it would allow Allergan to begin marketing Botox for depression, a change that could dramatically increase its adoption and sales.
But for some conditions, step therapy can be downright harmful. In a 2016 op-ed in The Boston Globe, a patient with ulcerative colitis wrote that his health insurance forced him to try a cheaper treatment for six months, instead of the pricier meds his doctor wanted to prescribe. In those six months, his colon deteriorated so badly it had to be removed.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled patients who had extended histories of receiving and tolerating BOTOX injections, with prior individualized adjustment of dose. The mean BOTOX dose administered to patients in this study was 236 Units (25th to 75th percentile range of 198 Units to 300 Units). The BOTOX dose was divided among the affected muscles [see Clinical Studies].
Serious adverse reactions, including excessive weakness, dysphagia, and aspiration pneumonia, with some adverse reactions associated with fatal outcomes, have been reported in patients who received BOTOX® injections for unapproved uses. In these cases, the adverse reactions were not necessarily related to distant spread of toxin, but may have resulted from the administration of BOTOX® to the site of injection and/or adjacent structures. In several of the cases, patients had pre-existing dysphagia or other significant disabilities. There is insufficient information to identify factors associated with an increased risk for adverse reactions associated with the unapproved uses of BOTOX®. The safety and effectiveness of BOTOX® for unapproved uses have not been established.
I was lucky. My health insurance only required me to try and fail two other less expensive migraine medications, and it didn’t dictate how long I had to try them for before giving up. Other insurers have stricter rules: Aetna, for example, requires patients to try at least three medications for at least two months each. HealthPartners also requires patients to try and fail three medications, such as beta blockers and antidepressants, without specifying for how long. (Requirements may vary by state and policy.) Because these migraine drugs are designed to treat other conditions like high blood pressure and depression, they can have serious side effects like weight gain, fatigue, and difficulty in thinking and speaking clearly.
Why Botox works isn’t completely clear. There’s some evidence that it may reduce the production of neurotransmitters related to pain in the areas where it’s injected. There’s also some evidence that it may have a broader effect on the brain’s pain centers, reducing the sensitivity that causes migraine sufferers to react to migraine triggers. While the exact mechanisms are poorly understood, the studies, as well as many of my patients’ experiences, do show a real benefit for many people.
Duration of response was calculated as the number of days between injection and the date of the first visit at which patients returned to 3 or 4 on the HDSS scale. The median duration of response following the first treatment in BOTOX treated patients with either dose was 201 days. Among those who received a second BOTOX injection, the median duration of response was similar to that observed after the first treatment.
When BOTOX was administered intramuscularly to pregnant rats (0.125, 0.25, 0.5, 1, 4, or 8 Units/kg) or rabbits (0.063, 0.125 , 0.25, or 0.5 Units/kg) daily during the period of organogenesis (total of 12 doses in rats, 13 doses in rabbits), reduced fetal body weights and decreased fetal skeletal ossification were observed at the two highest doses in rats and at the highest dose in rabbit s. These doses were also associated with significant maternal toxicity, including abortions, early deliveries, and maternal death. The developmen tal no-effect doses in these studies of 1 Unit/kg in rats and 0.25 Units/kg in rabbits are less than the human dose of 400 Units, based on Units/kg.
Study 4 included 170 patients (87 BOTOX and 83 placebo) with upper limb spasticity who were at least 6 months post-stroke. In Study 4, patients received 20 Units of BOTOX into the adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus (total BOTOX dose =40 Units in thumb muscles) or placebo (see Table 30). Study 5 included 109 patients with upper limb spasticity who were at least 6 months post-stroke. In Study 5, patients received 15 Units (low dose) or 20 Units (high dose) of BOTOX into the adductor pollicis and flexor pollicis longus under EMG guidance (total BOTOX low dose =30 Units, total BOTOX high dose =40 Units), or placebo (see Table 30). The duration of follow-up in Study 4 and Study 5 was 12 weeks.
As with the injection of any medication, your body's immune system can develop antibodies to the medication, which render the drug less effective or possibly cause development of an allergy to the drug. The more frequently the drug is injected or the more quantity that is injected, the higher the risk for these antibodies to be formed against the drug.
Therefore, it is important to remember that if a clinic or medical spa states that they are providing Botox at a certain dollar amount per unit, it is quite possible that they are diluting the Botox and actually not providing the agreed-upon amount. This is much like the concept of a watered-down drink at a bar, but the costs are much larger when it comes to Botox or its alternatives, Dysport and Xeomin.
Cornea problems have been reported. Cornea (surface of the eye) problems have been reported in some people receiving BOTOX® for their blepharospasm, especially in people with certain nerve disorders. BOTOX® may cause the eyelids to blink less, which could lead to the surface of the eye being exposed to air more than is usual. Tell your doctor if you experience any problems with your eyes while receiving BOTOX®. Your doctor may treat your eyes with drops, ointments, contact lenses, or with an eye patch.