I’ve had migraines since I was 12, but in 2015 my attacks got much worse. Without migraine-specific painkillers, my migraines make me queasy and tired, forcing me to go to bed with a freezing wet towel on my head. For the last two years, I’ve tried different medications, switched birth control pills, made lifestyle changes (less stress, more swimming, no alcohol) — to little avail. My migraines would improve for a while, but then they came back, worse than ever. Then this year, I finally discovered a treatment that works — Botox.
Botox, or onabotulinumtoxinA, is used for three main purposes: muscle spasm control, severe underarm sweating and cosmetic improvement. In this article we concentrate on the third use, achieved with the product called Botox Cosmetic, which contains botulinum toxin type A (the active ingredient), human albumin (a protein found in human blood plasma) and sodium chloride.
In recent years, a number of high-profile lawsuits have been brought against Allergan in which plaintiffs claimed that off-label uses--for ailments including a child's cerebral-palsy symptoms, for instance, or an adult's hand tremors--resulted in lasting deleterious side effects. Still, the drug's acceptance in a growing number of doctors' offices worldwide, and its revenue growth, show no signs of slowing.
García Leiva specified that this treatment "is not a first-choice treatment for migraine sufferers, but it can only be applied in patients with chronic migraine who have tried several treatments with poor results, and who show peripheral sensitization of muscles. Recently, the Foods and Drugs Administration (USA) has approved botulinum toxin as a therapeutical drug for the treatment of chronic migraine.

There has not been a confirmed serious case of spread of toxin effect away from the injection site when BOTOX® has been used at the recommended dose to treat chronic migraine, severe underarm sweating, blepharospasm, strabismus, or when BOTOX® Cosmetic has been used at the recommended dose to treat frown lines, crow’s feet lines, and/or forehead lines.
Vials of BOTOX have a holographic film on the vial label that contains the name “Allergan” within horizontal lines of rainbow color. In order to see the hologram, rotate the vial back and forth between your fin gers under a desk lamp or fluorescent light source. (Note: the holographic film on the label is absent in the date/lot area.) If you do not see the lines of rainbow color or the name “Allergan”, do not use the product and contact Allergan for additional information at 1-800-890-4345 from 7:00 AM to 3:00 PM Pacific Time.
Chronic migraines are what were formerly known as “transformed” migraines. These are near daily headaches, sometimes with migraine features but otherwise with frequent features of tension headaches. This may sound trivial but the treatment for tension headaches, typically with analgesics, would only make this syndrome worse. We learned that treating these with migraine preventive medications proved mostly effective. The current International Classification of Headache Disorders defines chronic migraine as a recurrent headache that has been ongoing for the past 3 months, occurs on at least 15 days per month, lasts at least 4 hours per day, and has 8 or more days per month when the headache has features of a migraine or responds to a typical migraine medication.
BOTOX was evaluated in two randomized, multi-center, 24-week, 2 injection cycle, placebo-controlled double-blind studies. Study 1 and Study 2 included chronic migraine adults who were not using any concurrent headache prophylaxis, and during a 28 -day baseline period had ≥15 headache days lasting 4 hours or more, with ≥50% being migraine/probable migraine. In both studies, patients were randomized to receive placebo or 155 Units to 195 Units BOTOX injections every 12 weeks for the 2-cycle, double-blind phase. Patients were allowed to use acute headache treatments during the study. BOTOX treatment demonstrated statistically significa nt and clinically meaningful improvements from baseline compared to placebo for key efficacy variables (see Table 24).
One of the most beneficial uses of BOTOX\for migraines is that it can serve as an indicator of how effective migraine surgery might be for you. BOTOX stops contracting muscles from irritating triggering nerves. If that gives you relief, you may benefit from surgery to “free up” pressure on those nerves. Using BOTOX may also help identify which nerves could be triggering your migraines, making surgical intervention more targeted.
BOTOX® can be used on the forehead lines, frown lines, crow’s feet, bunny lines (lines in the nose), chin (for dimpling), skin bands on the neck, and around the mouth (for smoker’s lines and down-turned corners of the mouth). Wrinkles caused by sun damage and gravity often will not respond to BOTOX®. It is important to re-emphasize that BOTOX® is NOT a facial filler (that is, it does not fill existing wrinkles) – it merely relaxes the muscles that are creating those wrinkles.
Currently, to participate in ARMR, you must be a patient at one of the study’s enrolling medical centers. You can see a full list of the participating centers here. “The number of centers participating in the ARMR is growing rapidly,” Dr. Schwedt says. “There will be eight or nine centers by the end of this year, and ARMR will continue to grow in 2019.” Patients at any of the participating centers who are interested in ARMR can visit ARMR.org to learn more and can contact their clinician’s office to find out how to enroll. Once enrolled, participants answer online questionnaires, provide a blood sample, and maintain a daily headache diary. Visit the ARMR website for more information and to learn about how you can get involved in the study.
Postmarketing safety data from BOTOX and other approved botulinum toxins suggest that botulinum toxin effects may, in some cases, be observed beyond the site of local injection. The symptoms are consistent with the mechanism of action of botulinum toxin and may include asthenia, generalized muscle weakness, diplopia, ptosis, dysphagia, dysphonia, dysarthria, urinary incontinence, and breathing difficulties. These symptoms have been reported hours to weeks after injection. Swallowing and breathing difficulti es can be life threatening and there have been reports of death related to spread of toxin effects. The risk of symptoms is probably greatest in children treated for spasticity but symptoms can also occur in adults treated for spasticity and other conditions, and partic ularly in those patients who have an underlying condition that would predispose them to these symptoms. In unapproved uses, including spasticity in children, and in approved indications, symptoms consistent with spread of toxin effect have been reported at do ses comparable to or lower than doses used to treat cervical dystonia and spasticity. Patients or caregivers should be advised to seek immediate medical care if swallowing, speech or respiratory disorders occur.
Two years later, Allergan bought Oculinum for $9 million and changed the drug's name to Botox. At the time, Allergan was primarily an ocular-care company that sold products like contact-lens cleaners and prescription solutions for dry eyes, bringing in about $500 million in annual sales. Allergan says it saw Botox as a drug for a niche population: it's estimated that 4% of people in the U.S. have crossed eyes, for which the drug was initially approved, and Allergan made about $13 million in sales from the drug by the end of 1991.
Do not receive BOTOX® Cosmetic if you: are allergic to any of the ingredients in BOTOX® Cosmetic (see Medication Guide for ingredients); had an allergic reaction to any other botulinum toxin product such as Myobloc® (rimabotulinumtoxinB), Dysport® (abobotulinumtoxinA), or Xeomin® (incobotulinumtoxinA); have a skin infection at the planned injection site.
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