In a recent Facebook Live, our new director Nim Lalvani introduced herself to the migraine community. If you missed our Facebook Live, watch the recording below or read on to learn more about Lalvani’s personal connection to migraine and her plans for the Foundation. [embed]https://www.facebook.com/americanmigrainefoundation/videos/290329171553466/[/embed] In the short time that Lalvani has worked at AMF, she’s been impressed by the strong and vibrant community of doctors, patients and advocates. Lalvani’s background is in public health, and she has dedicated her career to patient engagement. She has worked in the nonprofit and patient advocacy spaces for more than 12 years, helping patients at both the national and international level. “I've specifically focused my career on designing and providing the rights tools and resources for patients at the times that they need it most,” she shared, adding that her goal is to amplify patients’ voices in research and therapeutic development.
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.
Children do very well after having this procedure in our clinic and are not upset when they leave. We rarely use sedation. We use distraction and a quick injection method instead. In rare cases, localization of a muscle may be needed using an electromyograph (EMG) machine or electric stimulator. If this is needed we will discuss this before scheduling the injections.
Once the protein stops functioning at the neuromuscular junction, it is broken down into its harmless components (amino acids) and either recycled for use in other proteins or excreted by the kidneys. "The bigger the muscle, the quicker you'll see motion return," says Rowe. "Likewise, the smaller the muscle, the longer the effect of botox lasts." It doesn't have a tolerance effect, either—your body never gets used to Botox.
Although one cannot predict exactly who will respond, I find that those patients who are going to respond will note some improvement in headaches following the first set of injections. Repeat injection sets can be performed on the same patient no sooner than every 3 months, as long as a benefit is seen. Most insurers require that you document at least a 50% improvement in the chronic migraine frequency and/or severity for continued coverage. I usually recommend that my migraine patients have a second set of injections before deciding that this treatment modality is of no benefit to them.
Sharona Hoffman, professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, says that step therapy is driven by a single motivator: saving costs. Hoffman, who’s written about the legal and ethical implications of step therapy, says that sometimes step therapy can have sensible outcomes, like pushing patients to take generics instead of brand-name drugs. But these policies can also keep doctors from prescribing the more expensive drugs of choice, forcing patients to take medications that are less effective or have worse side effects.
Botox prevents migraine headaches before they start, but takes time to work. “I look to the second and third treatments to maximize effects,” says Dr. Andrew Blumenfeld. “Patients see increasing benefit with an increase in the number of treatment cycles.” One treatment lasts for 10-12 weeks, and patients reported that two Botox treatments reduced the number of headache days by approximately 50%.
Serious and/or immediate hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. These reactions include anaphylaxis, serum sickness, urticaria, soft tissue edema, and dyspnea. If such a reaction occurs, further injection of BOTOX should be discontinued and appropriate medical therapy immediately instituted. One fatal case of anaphylaxis has been reported in which lidocaine was us ed as the diluent, and consequently the causal agent cannot be reliably determined.
The effects of botulinum toxin are different from those of nerve agents involved insofar in that botulism symptoms develop relatively slowly (over several days), while nerve agent effects are generally much more rapid and can be instantaneous. Evidence suggests that nerve exposure (simulated by injection of atropine and pralidoxime) will increase mortality by enhancing botulinum toxin's mechanism of toxicity.
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.
The patient’s neck stability, posture, torsion, and symmetry should be assessed to determine whether he or she may be at increased risk for adverse events prior to the first injection cycle. A patient with preexisting neck pain and/or weakness may be at higher risk for exacerbation of the condition upon injection of the occipitalis, cervical paraspinal, or trapezius muscle groups. Patients with smaller frames may be at higher risk for neck weakness. Indicated injection sites can still be injected with minimal side effects and unwanted outcomes as long as correct injection sites are targeted and treatments are administered using a superficial approach with avoidance of the mid and lower cervical regions. The cervical paraspinal muscle group is made up of multiple muscles including the trapezius, splenius capitis and cervicis, and semispinalis capitus. This group of muscles helps support the neck, including extension of the head.
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.”
The one side effect that we most commonly see with Botox for migraine, ironically, is increased headache pain in the days immediately following the injections. Interestingly, some patients have the opposite effect, noticing immediate pain relief. That may be due to an acupuncture-like response, where poking needles into unhappy muscles actually makes them feel better.
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.
Galli’s winning film presents herself, and people with migraine, as superheroes, living with a secret identity: migraine. “Other than me laying down on my couch, and knowing what's going on inside my body, nobody sees what's happening,” she says. “It's all happening inside. It's like that same struggle that superheroes have.” The migraine symptoms are superpowers, albeit ones that you don’t want. When her migraine attacks first began, Galli recalls an increased sensitivity to sound, odors, light and “all these things that feel not normal.” Many people with migraine are fighting the disease on their own, because their peers can’t relate to what their feeling on a daily basis. “It's time that we create better awareness and we tell the world that no, we don't need to be alone,” she says. “We don't need to fight alone and hide in the dark.” The film, she hopes, will add to the conversation and bring this disease out of the shadows. For the more than 37 million Americans living with migraine, Galli says: “You’re all superheroes. I hear you, I feel you.”
Prior to injection, reconstitute each vacuum-dried vial of BOTOX with only sterile, preservative-free 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection USP. Draw up the proper amount of diluent in the appropriate size syringe (see Table 1, or for specific instructions for detr usor overactivity associated with a neurologic condition see Section 2.3), and slowly inject the diluent into the vial. Discard the vial if a vacuum does not pull the diluent into the vial. Gently mix BOTOX with the saline by rotating the vial. Record the date and time of reconstitution on the space on the label. BOTOX should be administered within 24 hours after reconstitution. During this time period, reconstituted BOTOX should be stored in a refrigerator (2° to 8°C).