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NICE: more data needed on botox treatment for migraines

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The health watchdog NICE has said it wants more information before it recommends an anti-wrinkle jab as a form of NHS treatment for chronic migraine sufferers.

The watchdog published draft guidelines which said there is little proof so far that Botox can be used as a treatment.

Allergan, which makes Botox, has been told it must provide more information before it can make a final decision.

Some 1.6 per cent of adults are thought to be affected by chronic migraines.

The watchdog said that if eight out of 15 headaches a person has in a three-month period are migraines, they are a chronic migraine sufferer.

It is thought that the muscle relaxant Botox - or botulinum toxin - may block pain signals, but the exact reasons that it may work for migraines are unknown.

The jab was approved as a UK treatment for the prevention of chronic migraine in July 2010, by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

NICE is considering whether the NHS in Wales and England should offer the injection.

After evidence from Allergan was reviewed, the independent committee at NICE discovered that Botox has “some benefit” in clinical trials.

However, the benefits were small, NICE said, and the findings were “confounded by a large placebo effect”.

It is expected a final decision will be made in June.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Little One

    I hope that they will review this properly. I suffer with approximately 2-3 migraines a month which are truly debilitating and I feel awful for missing so many days of work. The worst month I have had so far led to me taking 11 days off work as I had 4 migraines and needed to recover following each one.

    It is sad that so little appears to be understood about migraines, I have had to argue in previous jobs that migraines are a chronic illness to avoid me from getting the sack after 'triggering on sickness targets' when there is simply nothing I can do.

    I always compare Migraines to Epilepsy. A person suffering with Epilepsy has Epilepsy all the time. They take tablets in hopes to control it and they can reduce the number of seizures they have, but even when they are not seizing, they have Epilepsy. The same holds true for Migraine sufferers. I take tablets every day to reduce the number I have, but I still suffer with Migraines fairly regularly and even when I am not having a Migraine, I still suffer with it.

    There is also an operation available, Vagal Nerve Stimulation, which has also been shown to be of benefit to Migraineurs but this is also not readily available on the NHS. At this point in my life I would try absolutely anything to rid myself of them completely, or at least further reduce their frequency as I am left feeling truly dreadful for days and days every month. Migraines are a truly awful thing to suffer with.

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