Allergan says Botox is well established as a drug and that the benefits and risks of toxins are well understood. "With more than 25 years of real-world clinical experience ... approximately 3,200 articles in scientific and medical journals, marketing authorizations in more than 90 markets and many different indications, Botox and Botox Cosmetic are [among] the most widely researched medicines in the world," an Allergan rep wrote in an emailed statement.
Though there's still more research to be done on Botox for migraines and doctors aren't yet completely sure why the procedure is effective, they have some ideas. Ravitz tells me, "What [Botox] does is paralyze nerve terminals. Essentially, nerve terminals transmit pain, but they also produce pain substances while they’re doing that, and it completely paralyzes that process." She says that it stops the process of pain patterning and it also relaxes the muscles.
Migraine is not a synonym for just a really bad headache, Galli says, which is one of the biggest misconceptions of this disease. It’s a full-body experience that affects your daily life. Being able to break that stigma and, instead, making migraine a synonym of the “this huge debilitating monster of a disease” is one way to change that. Knowledge is a powerful tool for migraine management. The American Migraine Foundation maintains a comprehensive resource library full of fact sheets, toolkits and advice sourced directly from the nation’s leading migraine specialists. Visit AMF’s website to learn more and to find a headache doctor near you.
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.”
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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.