Even if Botox's mechanism isn't always well understood and some of its off-label uses are still unproven, interest in the drug isn't likely to wane. "Botox is a big cash cow for the physicians' practices," says Ronny Gal, an investment analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein who has watched the drug closely for more than a decade. "When I talk to physicians, they say, 'Botox is not a problem. It works and gives you the result you want.' If it works for depression and atrial fibrillation, it could be massive."
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.”
“I see a lot of patients who come in from sun damage, or who have creases in their foreheads, more lines around the sides of their mouths, crow's feet, and wrinkles on the side of their nose,” Shah says. “At this age, a dermatologist can inject Botox in the right places to help train a person’s face to no longer fall into that habit, which can help decrease the odds that they’ll develop permanent wrinkles in those spots later on.”
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.
I asked this question as Ravitz was putting the first needles in my face, which was probably a mistake as I get anxious easily. However, she assured me that the side effects of Botox typically don't happen at the doses prescribed for migraines, and even if the scary-sounding side effects you read about online do occur (such as one-side paralysis and eye droops), they aren't particularly dangerous and last four to six weeks.
In the first study, researchers examined a sample of healthy subjects and patients with a diagnosis of migraine -any frequency-, and analysed the presence of trigger points and their location, many of the explorations resulting in a migraine crisis. The most interesting findings of this study were: 95% of migraine sufferers have trigger points, while only 25% of healty subjects have them. The most common locations of trigger points are the anterior temporal and the suboccipital region, both billateral, of the head. Furthermore, researchers found a positive correlation among the number of trigger points in a patient, the number of monthly crises and the duration in years of the condition.
Still, Botox's use for depression raises a question that confounds some researchers. In some cases, how Botox works is evident: the toxin can block the signals between nerves and muscles, which is why it can help calm an overactive bladder, say, or a twitching eye, or the facial muscles that make wrinkles more apparent. In other cases, however (with migraines as well as with depression), scientists are flummoxed. They may have noticed that the drug works for a given condition, but they aren't always sure why--in sciencespeak, they don't know what the mechanism is.
The procerus is a small triangular-shaped muscle that intermingles with the inferior aspect of the frontalis muscle. The muscle runs from the aponeurotic fascia on the nasal bones and inserts into the skin of the inferior forehead. The medial portion of the eyebrow and the skin of the lower forehead are drawn down by the procerus muscle, producing transverse wrinkle lines over the bridge of the nose.
Tell your doctor about all your medical conditions, including if you: have or have had bleeding problems; have plans to have surgery; had surgery on your face; weakness of forehead muscles; trouble raising your eyebrows; drooping eyelids; any other abnormal facial change; have symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) and are being treated for urinary incontinence (symptoms of a urinary tract infection may include pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, or fever); have problems emptying your bladder on your own and are being treated for urinary incontinence; are pregnant or plan to become pregnant (it is not known if BOTOX® or BOTOX® Cosmetic can harm your unborn baby); are breastfeeding or plan to (it is not known if BOTOX® or BOTOX® Cosmetic passes into breast milk).