Step therapy is largely unregulated both at the state and federal level, though individual states have started to pass legislation to limit step therapy and protect patients: 19 US states, including California, Mississippi, and Illinois, have laws that require insurance companies to grant certain exemptions or to review appeals from doctors within 72 hours so patients can get a waiver. But even then, getting a waiver isn’t always easy.
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study enrolled patients who had extended histories of receiving and tolerating BOTOX injections, with prior individualized adjustment of dose. The mean BOTOX dose administered to patients in this study was 236 Units (25th to 75th percentile range of 198 Units to 300 Units). The BOTOX dose was divided among the affected muscles [see Clinical Studies].
In just over a decade, the number of people in the U.S. receiving cosmetic botulinum toxin type A injections--mostly from Botox but also from another brand called Dysport, which commands less than 10% of the market--exploded. From 2000 to 2015, use of the toxins for wrinkles increased 759%. It became a cultural phenomenon too, spawning Botox parties, Simpsons jokes, even greeting cards. In 2008, Sex and the City character Samantha famously quipped, "I don't really believe in marriage. Now Botox, on the other hand, that works every time."
There are eight types of botulinum toxin, named type A–H. Types A and B are capable of causing disease in humans, and are also used commercially and medically. Types C–G are less common; types E and F can cause disease in humans, while the other types cause disease in other animals. Type H is considered the deadliest substance in the world – an injection of only 2 ng can cause death to an adult. Botulinum toxin types A and B are used in medicine to treat various muscle spasms and diseases characterized by overactive muscle. Commercial forms are marketed under the brand names Botox and Dysport, among others.
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.”
Spread of toxin effects. The effect of botulinum toxin may affect areas away from the injection site and cause serious symptoms including: loss of strength and all-over muscle weakness, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids, hoarseness or change or loss of voice, trouble saying words clearly, loss of bladder control, trouble breathing, and trouble swallowing.