Botox for Migraines? Let’s Read the Package Insert

In December 1991 the FDA cleared Allergan’s prescription drug Botox® (botulinum toxin A, “Botox”) to deal with crossed eyes (strabismus) and involuntary eyelid clenching (blepharospasm). Since then the label for Botox has been expanded to 4 or 5 extra therapeutic indications, most just lately to deal with persistent, extreme migraines. First recognized in 1897, botulinum toxin has develop into what Allergan’s government VP for R&D calls a “pipeline in a vial.” Ka-ching!

What it actually means when the FDA approves a drug or expands the variety of makes use of for it, is that the drug’s producer is allowed to market the drug for that use. Nonetheless, physicians are free to make use of any authorised drug for any use of their selecting — the FDA doesn’t regulate the apply of medication. The truth is, there have been hints of Botox’s potential profit to deal with migraine over ten years in the past and a few off-label use for migraine has occurred over time. Now, Botox is formally authorised for that use, what professionals name a sign. So, the one query remaining is how effectively does it work?

Happily, the FDA.gov web page incorporates a treasure chest stuffed with technical literature gems referred to as Bundle Inserts (PI). The PI is included with shipments of each authorised drug in order that physicians (and also you and I) can learn all about it. To get your free copy of virtually any PI, simply click on on Hyperlink 1 on the finish of this report and kind within the identify of your favourite drug. Often, the drug’s producer will put up the PI previous to the FDA. Then, simply go to the corporate web page and seek for the drug underneath Our Merchandise or one thing like that. Such is the case for botox in pearland. So from Hyperlink 2 on the finish of this report, on the backside of the linked web page, click on on “Please see full BOTOX Product Info,” which is able to allow you to obtain a PDF of the latest PI for Botox.

Now, let’s learn the PI collectively.

Yikes! This PI incorporates 25 pages of large phrases written in tiny print. You could ask “Does each doctor actually learn each phrase of each PI for the medicine she prescribes?” Did you learn each phrase of each article in at the moment’s newspaper? The bottom line is to examine what you should know. What we have to know is how effectively Botox works to stop migraines.

The primary page-and-a-half of the PI is a bioquickie model, what is named the “Highlights.” Skip it. Go proper to the Full Prescribing Info part on web page two. Medicine with a very severe danger profile could have a so-called Black Field Warning proper up entrance. Botox has one and so does the antidepressant Zoloft. Lipitor, for top ldl cholesterol, doesn’t. Surprisingly, many biotech medicine, recombinant variations of pure proteins, even have Black Field warnings. These warnings put physicians on excessive alert for sure side-effects; however, the understanding is that for the precise sufferers, the drug’s advantages trump its dangers. If, over time, the dangers appear to be extra prevalent or new dangers seem, a drug could get a extra ardent Black Field warning or it could even be withdrawn from the market. However many medicine with Black Field warnings have been available on the market for a few years.

To repeat, the query we need to reply is how effectively does Botox work for migraines? Nicely, there are all types of enjoyable data on this PI, however to reply our query, we have to discover and deal with Medical Research. Please bounce to web page 14.

First, some background in migraines. A number of medicine, reminiscent of GlaxoSmithKline’s Imitrex and Merck’s Maxalt, are FDA authorised to deal with a migraine assault. There are additionally a number of medicine, reminiscent of Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax and Abbott’s Depakote, which are FDA authorised to stop migraines. Botox was authorised for prevention. However wait, there’s extra. One may attempt to forestall a migraine episode or attempt to lower the variety of headache days per thirty days. This distinction is strictly the place Allergan bumped into an issue.

The corporate sponsored a pivotal medical trial referred to as PREEMPT I which randomized 679 sufferers to obtain both two rounds of Botox injections (31 photographs given at seven specified places, see p.four of the PI) or two rounds of placebo injections. Every injection cycle was given 12 weeks aside and the first medical endpoint (PCE) was the change from baseline in headache episode frequency. The consequence was that there have been 5.three fewer headache episodes per thirty days, which is not dangerous. Sadly, that was within the placebo group. There have been 5.2 fewer episodes per thirty days within the Botox group, primarily a wash. Given that every one sufferers began the trial with 12-13 episodes a month, a roughly 40 p.c discount in migraine episodes is definitely clinically significant, simply not Botox dependent. Sadly, not one of the information on this paragraph are in your PI. The information had been printed in an expert journal, Cephalalgia, in March of this 12 months.

Here is the rub. All PIs are composed by the corporate hoping to promote its drug and edited by the FDA. A Bundle Insert is a negotiated doc. Most individuals, together with migraine victims, don’t learn the scientific literature, not to mention Cephalalgia. Prior to now, I had by no means even heard of Cephalalgia, however I do not get out a lot both.

Now, again to web page 14 of our PI. The paragraph on the backside of the web page tells us how the medical trial was carried out. On web page 15 is Desk 6 with the information we’d like. Be aware that two research are introduced, every with virtually 700 sufferers evenly break up between Botox and placebo. And, be aware that the efficacy endpoint described was the change from baseline within the frequency of headache days per thirty days. The measurement of headache days was a secondary medical endpoint (SCE) in PREEMPT I. Typically, a trial that hits a SCE or a number of SCEs however misses its PCE is a bust. Possibly the corporate ought to have run one other medical trial. Allergan took a unique method.

With the PREEMPT I writing on the wall, Allergan revised its second pivotal trial, PREEMPT II, and made the PCE the change from baseline in headache days. Voilà, success! Curiously, on this second trial, there was additionally a statistically important lower in migraine episodes which was now a SCE. Nonetheless, the advance in episodes was not as a consequence of a greater consequence with Botox — the variety of episodes per thirty days dropped by 5.three, just like that in PREEMPT I — however as a consequence of a weaker placebo impact. In PREEMPT II, the lower within the variety of migraine episodes as a consequence of placebo was four.6 days per thirty days, in contrast with 5.three in PREEMPT I. The joke on Wall Avenue was that PREEMPT I clearly used “extra-strength” placebo. You gotta love their humorousness.

Utilizing Desk 6 we see that in PREEMPT I, the sufferers receiving Botox had 1.four fewer headache days per thirty days than these receiving placebo (7.eight minus 6.four). Likewise, in PREEMPT II, there was a 2.three day discount in headache days per thirty days favoring Botox over placebo (9.2 minus 6.9). On common, Botox diminished the variety of headache days per thirty days by about two days in contrast with placebo. As for migraine episodes, the information for Botox are equivocal because the two trials had completely different outcomes.

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