The BBC is reporting that the wrinkle-fighter Botox, which costs roughly £276 (about $443) per injection, may not be appropriate for chronic migraine sufferers. A trial of more than 1,300 patients had shown the drug was helpful in reducing the frequency of headaches. But experts from the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin, which reviews UK medical treatments, have questions about patient selection in the trial, adding that the diagnosis of chronic migraine was incorrect in some.
Furthermore, the experts say, the product led to a worsening of headache symptoms for roughly one in 10 people, and a similar number developed other adverse reactions, including itching, rash, pain, stiffness and muscle spasms.
Not everyone is agreeing with this assessment, however. "Anyone who suffers from chronic migraine knows that there is no cure, but for these patients, who are often quite disabled by their unremitting and remorseless pattern of headaches and migraines, any new treatment that helps them to get their lives back in control and to proactively manage their condition like Botox, gives them hope for a better future," Migraine Action director Lee Tomkins says, according to the BBC.
When Allergan obtained FDA approval last fall for the migraine indication, analysts saw it as a win, saying it could add $1 billion to its current annual sales of $1.3 billion. "This is the most meaningful market expansion that the product has had since it was approved for cosmetic use," Piper Jaffray's David Amsellem told Bloomberg.
Allergan had a lot of hope for Botox; it has been looking at more medical uses for the drug, EVP Scott Whitcup said last year. "We call it our pipeline in a vial," Whitcup explained. "People still think about it as a cosmetic product, but the therapeutic indications in the next five years will far surpass its cosmetic use." In fact, one the indications Allergan is studying for Botox is overactive bladder.