“Botox is a completely cosmetic procedure, so if and when someone ‘needs’ it is a purely personal decision,” Shah says. “Some people are not bothered by developing fine lines and wrinkles. For those who are, I generally advise starting treatments just when they start to see the lines develop, or when the wrinkles linger even after the movement has stopped.”
How does BOTOX work in migraines? The current theory is that BOTOX disrupts the trigeminal nerve terminal end. This leads to down-regulation of the trigeminal nerve cells and suppression of neurotransmitter release in two critical areas: central neuronal glutamate release and peripheral nerve inflammatory-inducing compounds such as CGRP in the cerebral blood vessels.
Ray Chester, an attorney in Austin who has represented several plaintiffs in lawsuits against Allergan, says that just about all the cases he has handled involved off-label use of the drug. In 2014 a New York couple argued that Botox, which they chose to try off-label to treat their son's cerebral-palsy symptoms, caused life-threatening complications. The family was awarded $6.75 million by a jury. Allergan, which initially planned to appeal, ended up privately settling the case with the family, and the terms of the settlement have been kept confidential.
In overactive bladder patients with analyzed specimens from the two phase 3 studies and the open-label extension study, neutralizing antibodies developed in 0 of 954 patients (0.0%) while receiving BOTOX 100 Unit doses and 3 of 260 patients (1.2%) after subsequently receiving at least one 150 Unit dose. Response to subsequent BOTOX treatment was not different following seroconversion in these three patients.
Lastly, a Botox treatment does not offer permanent results. Botox is most effective when treatments are carried out at regular intervals before the results fully wear off. On average, the results last for three to four months, although Botox metabolizes at different rates in different individuals. The first ever Botox treatment you receive may not last as long as subsequent treatments, plus you may require touch-ups two weeks after the procedure as your injector determines the right dosage for you. Over time, however, many patients notice that they can wait longer intervals between treatments as their treated facial muscles weaken.
The bacterium can also be found in the intestinal tracts of mammals and fish and in the gills and organs of crabs and other shellfish. Such naturally occurring instances of Clostridium botulinum bacteria and spores are generally harmless. Problems only arise when the spores transform into vegetative cells and the cell population increases. At a certain point, the bacteria begin producing botulinum toxin, the deadly neurotoxin responsible for botulism.
In 2010, Allergan pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $600 million to resolve allegations that it unlawfully promoted Botox for conditions--including headaches, pain, spasticity and juvenile cerebral palsy--that at the time were not approved by the FDA. In one of the complaints, prosecutors said that Allergan "illegally, vigorously and without any thought to the possible negative health effects to which it subjected patients, promoted off-label uses of Botox." The U.S. Department of Justice also argued that Allergan exploited on-label uses for cervical dystonia--a disorder characterized by extreme neck-muscle contractions--to "grow off-label pain and headache sales." Prosecutors also argued that Allergan paid doctors to give presentations and trainings to other physicians about Botox uses that at the time were off-label.
Pharmaceutical companies are not without blame. One reason why insurers impose step therapy is high drug prices. Botox, which is made from the toxin of certain bacteria, is much more expensive than other migraine treatments like beta blockers, which are available as generics. Botox costs about $4,800 a year, but with injection fees, treatment can cost up to $10,000 a year. “They could lower the price,” says Loder. “Their goal is to maximize return on investment for their stockholders. That’s not the same thing as maximizing benefits for patients, unfortunately.”
It is not known whether BOTOX® is safe or effective to treat increased stiffness in upper limb muscles other than those in the elbow, wrist, fingers, and thumb, or in lower limb muscles other than those in the ankle and toes. BOTOX® has not been shown to help people perform task-specific functions with their upper limbs or increase movement in joints that are permanently fixed in position by stiff muscles. Treatment with BOTOX® is not meant to replace existing physical therapy or other rehabilitation that may have been prescribed.