Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) is a neuropeptide found all over the body, says Dr. Amaal Starling, an Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. This neuropeptide attaches to a receptor called a CGRP receptor. CGRP and its receptor are involved in numerous bodily processes—from gastrointestinal movement to the transmission of pain. Over the past few decades, there has been increasing evidence that CGRP plays a role in both migraine and cluster headache. During a migraine attack, researchers have found increased levels of CGRP in patients’ blood and saliva. They discovered migraine medications like sumatriptan reduced levels of CGRP in patients living with migraine. They also found that patients with chronic migraine—meaning 15 or more migraine days per month, eight of which either meet criteria for migraine or are treated with migraine-specific medication—had chronically elevated levels of CGRP. In addition, recent research found that giving a patient with migraine an infusion of CGRP would lead to a migraine-like attack. “All of these studies led to the hypothesis that CGRP and its receptor play a key role in migraine, as well as in cluster headache,” Dr. Starling says.
Botox comes as a crystalline substance from the manufacturer, which then has to be reconstituted with saline or another liquid. Practitioners add varying amounts of liquid when reconstituting it. Although there is no right or wrong amount of liquid to add, most physicians add about 2 mL-3 mL (about a half a teaspoon) of liquid to each vial. Some add quite a bit more, which can lead patients to think they are getting more Botox when, in reality, they are getting the same or less amount of Botox than samples reconstituted in a stronger way. It is the total dose of medication, not the volume of liquid, that leads to the desired effect.
Dermal fillers, as we’ve discussed in our previous post, vary on what you’re looking for and how long you’d like to see those results. According to the Plastic Surgeons Portal, the minimum you’ll pay for dermal fillers, like Juvederm and Restylane, is going to $1500, while the maximum you’re looking at is $2,500. It’s a small price to pay for radiance and confidence!
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Launched in 2002, Practical Neurology is a publication uniquely dedicated to presenting current approaches to patient management, synthesis of emerging research and data, and analysis of industry news with a goal to facilitate practical application and improved clinical practice for all neurologists. Our straightforward articles give neurologists tools they can immediately put into practice.
Unlike some resurfacing or surgical procedures, after which there is possible pigmentation or scarring, when Botox is done correctly, it can be done on all skin tones. “This is a procedure [and] product that crosses all divides,” says Dr. Matarasso. “Men, women, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, Indian. I don’t think there is a demographic that has not enjoyed the benefit of this product.”
On July 7, 2015, the company acquired the rights to the late stage CGRP migraine portfolio of Merck & Co, as well as two experimental drugs (MK-1602 and MK-8031) for an upfront payment of $250 million. On August 10, the company acquired Oculeve for $125 million. On August 31, the company acquired Naurex for an upfront payment of $560 million. On October 19, the company acquired AqueSys, developer of ocular implants that reduce intraocular pressure associated with glaucoma, for an initial payment of $300 million. On October 1, the company acquired Kythera Biopharmaceuticals, a company focused on the medical aesthetics market, for $2.1 billion. On November 4 the company announced the acquisition of Northwood Medical Innovation, developer of earFold, a medical device to correct protruding ears. On November 25, 2015, the company announced it would partner with Rugen Therapeutic to develop new therapies for autism spectrum disorder, rabies and obsessive compulsive disorder.
Still, there have been enough concerns that the FDA instituted a REMS (Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy) requirement for all botulinum toxin preparations that specifically addresses the issues of distant spread of the toxin and the risk of problems, leading to death, from swallowing or breathing issues in certain patients who may be susceptible after botulinum toxin treatment. All products, including Dysport, Myobloc, Xeomin, and Botox, are monitored via this strategy. This is specifically aimed at a certain population of patients receiving more than the usual doses of botulinum toxin and not aimed at the casual user of Botox, per se.
Allergan Plc engages in the research, development, and manufacture of pharmaceutical products. It operates through the following business segments: US Specialized Therapeutics; US General Medicine, and International. The US Specialized Therapeutics segment includes sales and expenses relating to branded products within the United States. The US General Medicine segment involves Central Nervous System; Gastrointestinal; Women's Health; Anti-Infectives; and Diversified brands. The International segment comprises of products sold outside the United States. The company was founded on in 1984 and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland.
Sometimes, because of these policies, patients are put on meds that are not approved by the FDA for the treatment of migraines, like the antidepressant amitriptyline and the high blood pressure drug verapamil. “In my experience, [verapamil is] not very effective,” says Elizabeth Loder, chief of the headache division at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and the former president of the American Headache Society. For the insurance companies, that doesn’t seem to matter. “It’s frustrating to patients, especially when it seems like some of the treatments that they’re required to try have a lot of side effects and haven’t really been tested that carefully for migraines.”
In November, the FDA held a two-day hearing asking for expert comment on the agency's rules concerning off-label drug use and marketing. Some said the practice paves the way for scientific progress and gives doctors and their patients much needed alternatives for hard-to-treat medical conditions. Others said that off-label drug use is primarily financially motivated and that it poses a serious threat to public health, particularly when drugs are used experimentally on children.
Botulinum toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum is the cause of botulism. Humans most commonly ingest the toxin from eating improperly-canned foods in which C. botulinum has grown. However, the toxin can also be introduced through an infected wound. In infants, the bacteria can sometimes grow in the intestines and produce botulinum toxin within the intestine and can cause a condition known as floppy baby syndrome. In all cases, the toxin can then spread, blocking nerves and muscle function. In severe cases, the toxin can block nerves controlling the respiratory system or heart, resulting in death. Botulism can be difficult to diagnose, as it may appear similar to diseases such as Guillain–Barré syndrome, myasthenia gravis, and stroke. Other tests, such as brain scan and spinal fluid examination, may help to rule out other causes. If the symptoms of botulism are diagnosed early, various treatments can be administered. In an effort to remove contaminated food which remains in the gut, enemas or induced vomiting may be used. For wound infections, infected material may be removed surgically. Botulinum antitoxin is available and may be used to prevent the worsening of symptoms, though it will not reverse existing nerve damage. In severe cases, mechanical respiration may be used to support patients suffering from respiratory failure. The nerve damage heals over time, generally over weeks to months. With proper treatment, the case fatality rate for botulinum poisoning can be greatly reduced.
With the outbreak of World War II, weaponization of botulinum toxin was investigated at Fort Detrick in Maryland. Carl Lamanna and James Duff developed the concentration and crystallization techniques that Edward J. Schantz used to create the first clinical product. When the Army’s Chemical Corps was disbanded, Schantz moved to the Food Research Institute in Wisconsin, where he manufactured toxin for experimental use and generously provided it to the academic community.
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Make sure your practitioner is very experienced at Botox injections and is a respected medical professional. A salon stylist, for example, is not an appropriate person to administer Botox, because he or she would not have emergency equipment or sufficient medical knowledge if something went wrong. Some disreputable people have reportedly administered injections that were over- or under-diluted with saline, as well as counterfeit solutions that didn't contain Botox at all.
It’s not just about Botox, though. Last month, the FDA approved the first migraine-specific drug to prevent the severe headaches. Called Aimovig, the injectable med will cost $6,900 a year, according to The New York Times, plus injection fees. Because of the high costs, experts expect the new drug to be subject to step therapy policies. Stephen Silberstein, the director of the headache center at Jefferson University, told me in 2016 that he wouldn’t be surprised if insurance companies required patients to even try and fail Botox before covering the new meds (there are a few of them under development).
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.