Botox Now Approved for Migraines, Too

Image: Vancouver Laser and Skincare Center/Flickr

Botox isn’t just for wrinkles anymore. Thanks to FDA approval, Botox maker Allergan can now market the nerve-connection blocker to people with chronic migraines. This approval may double Botox’s annual sales, according to BusinessWeek:

The medicine, a purified form of the poison botulinum given as an injection, was cleared for people who suffer migraines at least 15 days a month, and whose pain lasts at least 4 hours, said Caroline Van Hove, an Allergan spokeswoman. About 3.2 million Americans meet those criteria, Van Hove said in a telephone interview yesterday.

The approval…came 10 days after the Irvine, California-based drugmaker pleaded guilty to charges it marketed Botox for unapproved uses, including pain. The medicine, which generated $1.3 billion in 2009 sales, may add $1 billion more in yearly revenue with the migraine indication, said Aaron Gal, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, in a May report.

“This is the most meaningful market expansion that the product has had since it was approved for cosmetic use” more than 20 years ago, said David Amsellem, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co. in New York who rates the shares “overweight.”

To treat migraines, Botox is given every 12 weeks in multiple injections around the head and neck to reduce future symptoms, the FDA said. The drug hasn’t been shown to work for other types of headaches, or for migraines that occur less frequently than 15 days a month, the agency said.

This kind of additional treatment approval is every pharma company’s fantasy, though I question whether migraine usage with be popular enough to increase revenue as much as analysts suggest (the botulinum toxin already has a variety of other lesser-known uses, including treating muscle spasms). The benefits of Botox vs. a placebo in the migraine study weren’t that dramatic.

I can’t help but wonder if those injection sites happen to correspond with the forehead, area around the eyes, and other convenient wrinkle-removal locations. Then those analysts would be onto something.

How to Make Effective Business Decisions and How To Learn From Them
  • Jennifer

    I’ve only had one true migraine (caused by a drug reaction), so I can only imagine what it’s like to deal with it half the time you’re alive. I can see why people would be willing to try anything, even botox if it helps. Since it’s a neurological condition, take a look at neurological stress reduction therapy as an alternative to drugs. It’s a therapy that helps reduce stress on the body, which in turn can help the body heal itself. It’s worth a look if you are suffering from migraines.

  • Chris

    A friend of mine has been doing this for years. She claims it helps.

  • I am the operator of a medical tourism platform and since the approval and the publication of such articles it’s amazing the increase in the number of people who have enquired into botox treatment for migraines.