Botulinum toxin is one of the most poisonous substances known to man. Scientists have estimated that a single gram could kill as many as 1 million people and a couple of kilograms could kill every human on earth. In high concentrations, botulinum toxin can result in botulism, a severe, life-threatening illness. Botulism, left untreated, may result in respiratory failure and death. Despite botulinum toxin being so toxic, Botox is in huge demand.
As with any drug, Allergan is legally required to make known Botox's most severe potential side effects, and in 2009 the FDA required Botox to bear a black-box warning--the strongest type of warning label given to any drug--cautioning that there was evidence the drug had been linked to serious side effects. With Botox, this includes effects spreading from the injection site to other parts of the body, causing muscle weakness, double vision and drooping eyelids.
“Your doctor still has to be willing to do the work of filing a waiver and they don’t get reimbursed for that work, so they don’t like to do it,” Hoffman says. Plus, there’s a federal law called ERISA that exempts certain types of employer-provided health plans, called self-funded plans, from the requirements of state laws. So, for roughly a quarter of Americans who have these health plans, the state limitations to step therapy don’t apply.
Results can vary depending on who is performing the injection on the patient. It is very important to go to a physician who is experienced at this procedure, does it him- or herself (rather than having a nurse, physician's assistant [PA], or other nonphysician do it), and has a good reputation for performing this type of procedure. The manufacturers of Botox recommend physicians inject the medication themselves. As with most procedures, the skill of the practitioner is related to how often he or she performs the procedure.
Each vial of BOTOX contains either 50 Units of Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin complex, 0.25 mg of Albumin Human, and 0.45 mg of sodium chloride; 100 Units of Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin complex, 0.5 mg of Albumin Human, and 0.9 mg of sodium chloride; or 200 Units of Clostridium botulinum type A neurotoxin complex, 1 mg of Albumin Human, and 1.8 mg of sodium chloride in a sterile, vacuum-dried form without a preservative.
Many times, effects on spasticity are longer lasting. It is not clear if this is due to breaking down patterned movements (many muscles contracting together rather than singly) or from allowing weak muscles to get stronger over time (that were overpowered before by more spastic muscles pulling against them). It is vital to have close follow-up after the injections to figure out the best course of treatment.
Dubbed as the “little neurotoxin that could,” by USA Today, Botox now boasts sales of well over $1 billion for its manufacturer, Allergan. Many of us who start to see our migraine-furrowed forehead lines show up in our 30s think: hey, maybe Botox for migraine could help me too. But before you say “heck yes!” at the next Botox party or med-spa, be sure you know what you’re getting into.
Tell your doctor if you have received any other botulinum toxin product in the last 4 months; have received injections of botulinum toxin such as Myobloc®, Dysport®, or Xeomin® in the past (tell your doctor exactly which product you received); have recently received an antibiotic by injection; take muscle relaxants; take an allergy or cold medicine; take a sleep medicine; take aspirin-like products or blood thinners.