Hoffman’s husband’s experience is not unusual. Once a patient gets the more expensive prescription, health insurance providers can still try and push them back to cheaper drugs. Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Loder says that most health insurance companies stop paying for Botox if it’s not reducing a patient’s migraines by at least 50 percent. “It’s important to keep careful headache diaries and keep careful notes in order to be able to prove to the insurance company that the treatment is worth it,” Loder says. “You’re not home free once they approve it.”
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Currently, there are several anti-CGRP treatments undergoing clinical trials. Some of these treatments involve monoclonal antibodies, which reduce the activity of CGRP, potentially leading to fewer migraine attacks. One of these anti-CGRP monoclonal antibodies, erenumab (Aimovig™), has been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and is now available for patients. A second agent, fremanezumab (Ajovy™), was approved in September 2018. A week later, the FDA approved galcanezumab (Emgality™), making it the third anti-CGRP treatment currently on the market. Results from the clinical trials involving anti-CGRP antibodies have shown that about 50 percent of patients will have at least a 50 percent reduction in migraine days. “If you think about someone who has 20 migraine days per month, they have a 50 percent chance of having 10 or less migraine days,” Dr. Starling says. “We think that there are even these super-responders who have a 75 percent response rate, as well as super-super-responders who actually go into remission.” The results from these clinical trials are very promising, Dr. Starling adds. “The adverse events have been very minimal and the efficacy has been very good. It’s all looking up.” Dr. Starling says that although these medications are available, what really needs to be looked at is how to make them truly accessible for patients. Erenumab can cost about $7,000 per year without insurance coverage. “Insurance coverage is very, very key for the majority of our patient population,” she says. “Because the medications just came out on the market, there are still a lot of unknowns about insurance coverage.”
In clinical trials, 30.6% of patients (33/108) who were not using clean intermittent catheterization (CIC) prior to injection, required catheterization for urinary retention following treatment with BOTOX® 200 Units as compared to 6.7% of patients (7/104) treated with placebo. The median duration of post-injection catheterization for these patients treated with BOTOX® 200 Units (n = 33) was 289 days (minimum 1 day to maximum 530 days) as compared to a median duration of 358 days (minimum 2 days to maximum 379 days) for patients receiving placebo (n = 7).
There have been reports following administration of BOTOX® of adverse events involving the cardiovascular system, including arrhythmia and myocardial infarction, some with fatal outcomes. Some of these patients had risk factors including pre-existing cardiovascular disease. Use caution when administering to patients with pre-existing cardiovascular disease.
“Most people in their twenties decide to try Botox simply because they want to enhance their appearance, such as relaxing the muscles in their forehead, or because they want to keep their skin looking fresh and young,” Shah says. “Starting earlier is better than later because as the lines get more and more embedded into the skin, Botox is not as effective in eliminating the lines.”
The patient is placed in a somewhat raised position on the exam table, and the areas to be injected are cleansed with a nonalcohol cleanser, such as Hibiclens or Betadine. Some physicians will apply a topical anesthetic, such as EMLA cream or some alternative, at this time. The Botox is then injected into the desired areas. Typical injection patterns include about four or five areas on each side of the forehead and two or three areas on either eye area. More areas can be injected by skilled physicians, depending on the type of wrinkles and the desired effect for the patient. It is common for pressure to be applied if an area seems to be bleeding after the injection. While ice is sometimes applied beforehand for comfort reasons, direct pressure is much more effective than ice for control of bleeding and bruising.
With depression, Rosenthal and Finzi think it may relate to what's known as the facial-feedback hypothesis, a theory stemming from research by Charles Darwin and further explored by the American philosopher and psychologist William James. The theory posits that people's facial expressions can influence their mood. Lift your face into a smile and it may just cheer you up; if you can't frown or furrow your brow in worry, perhaps you won't feel so anxious or sad.
How long the results from a Botox treatment last depends on the dosage and application. If Botox is too diluted and you don't get the proper units of Botox injected, the results might not last very long at all. If you get Botox for the wrong kind of wrinkles (i.e. static wrinkles) or an improper dose for your anatomy, you might not see much improvement either. In general, if the right amount of Botox is injected by a skilled doctor in the right muscles, Botox results can last 3-4 months.
In my experience, this, like all other treatments we use in medicine, doesn’t benefit every patient. I find that it helps a majority of appropriate patients, that is, those patients with a diagnosis of chronic migraine who have failed not just abortive but also preventative migraine treatments. Is there sufficient benefit, however, to outweigh the cost and pain of this treatment? In the case of most of my patients, the answer is yes.