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Botox closer to being approved for migraine treatment

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The use of Botox to treat chronic migraine on the NHS has moved a step nearer.

Health watchdog the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published final draft guidance which recommends the anti-wrinkle jab for the condition.

NICE is advising the NHS whether the benefits of Botox, known chemically as botulinum toxin type A and manufactured by Allergan, for chronic migraine are value for money.

The draft guidance recommends that injections should be stopped if the person’s headaches have not improved enough after two treatment cycles, or if the person’s “headache days” have reduced to fewer than 15 days a month over three consecutive months as this would mean that they have a different type of migraine, called episodic migraine, which is not covered in Allergan’s licence for Botox.

Professor Carole Longson, director of the Health Technology Evaluation Centre at NICE, said: “Chronic migraines are extremely debilitating and can significantly affect a person’s quality of life.

“We are pleased that the committee has been able to recommend Botox as a preventative therapy for those adults whose headaches have not improved despite trying at least three other medications and whose headaches are not caused by medication overuse.

“We have published our final draft guidance so that registered stakeholders can highlight any factual errors or appeal against our provisional recommendations. We have not yet issued guidance to the NHS on the use of this drug.”

Once the final guidance has been published, the NHS must allocate funding for the use of Botox as defined in the guidance within three months. Registered stakeholders wishing to appeal against the draft recommendations have until Friday May 25 to do so. If no appeals are received, NICE hopes to publish its final guidance for the NHS in next month.

Chronic migraines - believed to affect 1.6% of adults - involve having headaches for at least 15 days a month over three months, eight of which are migraines. It is not known exactly why Botox may work for migraine although it is thought it may block pain signals as well as being a muscle relaxant.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • I have suffered with uncontrolled migraine all of my adult life and therefore for all of my nursing career. My neurologist discussed these injections as a treatment option for me before this news was announced and so I'm well pleased with the NICE recommendations!

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