Hope for thousands who suffer migraines as treatment involving botox is given the green light
08:11 GMT, 11 May 2012
Crippling: Migraine sufferers quality of life could be dramatically improved by botox treatments set to become available on the NHS
Thousands of patients who suffer from migraines will be offered Botox injections on the NHS.
A U-turn by the drugs rationing body NICE yesterday brought provisional approval of the treatment, which combats headaches, nausea and dizziness.
Only patients diagnosed as suffering from chronic migraines will be eligible – 700,000 in the UK.
This is defined as having a headache at least every other day, with a full-blown migraine with dizziness and nausea on eight days of the month.
The procedure involves administering 30 injections of Botox, or botulinum toxin, into the head and neck.
Although it is normally used to smooth wrinkles, it is also a muscle relaxant and is thought to paralyse certain areas of tissue that trigger migraines.
In guidelines published in February, NICE initially claimed there was not enough evidence the jabs worked.
But it has changed its mind, and final guidelines approving them are expected in June.
The treatments cost 350 a time. Given every three months, it works out at 1,400 per patient a year.
Meanwhile, a drug that can give men with advanced prostate cancer an extra three months of life has been rejected for use on the NHS.
NICE says cabazitaxel does not offer value for money, despite admitting it works, and rejected an appeal against the decision by its maker Sanofi.
Wendy Thomas, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, said: ‘Chronic migraine is a disabling condition and in many cases ruins people’s lives.
‘For patients who suffer from this condition Botox may offer a safe and effective preventative treatment option to help them manage their migraine and improve their quality of life.
'We welcome the recommendation for this treatment option to be made available on the NHS.’
Beauty craze: Botox injections have become popular with ordinary Britons to stave off wrinkles after once being the preserve of the Hollywood in-crowd
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.’
The effectiveness of Botox was only discovered in the early 1990s when women in the US having jabs to smooth out wrinkles noticed their headaches and migraines ceased.
A group of doctors at Wake Forest University Hospital Baptist Centre in North Carolina carried out trials which showed 92 per cent success rates.
Researchers in London have also carried out several clinical trials which have reported 70 per cent of patients suffered 50 per cent fewer migraines.