Migraine victims could get Botox on the NHS as anti-wrinkle jabs could 'halve effects of pain'
Thousands of migraine sufferers could benefit if an official review gives the go-ahead for Botox jabs on the NHS.
Results of clinical trials suggest the injections, used as an anti-wrinkle treatment, can halve the effects of chronic migraine.
The therapy, which uses a purified version of botulinum toxin A, blocks overactive nerve impulses which trigger excessive muscle contractions.
Relief: Research suggests Botox injections can halve the effects of chronic migraine
It can act as a preventive treatment, breaking the cycle of chronic headaches. Botox, made by Allergan, was licensed for use on migraines almost two years ago.
Patients pay 400-600 a time for private treatment, according to the charity Migraine Action.
But it has not yet been approved for funding by the NHS rationing body, the National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence.
A review being conducted by NICE says there is 'insufficient evidence' so far to approve NHS funding.
Yesterday it revealed it wants Allergan to provide more evidence on the value of the drug before giving the green light for widespread NHS use.
Joanna Hamilton-Colclough, director of Migraine Action, said using Botox for her headaches had 'absolutely transformed my life'.
Botox, which is used as an anti-wrinkle treatment, has not yet been approved for funding by the National Institute for Healthcare and Clinical Excellence
She said: 'I've been having chronic headaches for 40 years – I wake up every day with a headache. After my first Botox treatment I woke up the next day feeling ill.
'At lunchtime I realised that I felt different because I didn't have a headache. I've been able to work without a headache and sleep properly for the first time.'
She admitted it did not work for everyone but added that clinical trials also suggested a 50 per cent reduction in migraine days for some patients.
A vial of the drug costing around 300 should be given as 31 injections in the forehead, temples, neck and shoulders. One treatment might break the cycle of pain, or top-ups might be required every three months.
Mrs Hamilton-Colclough said: 'We don't think the treatment is expensive when you take into account the cost to the economy from people needing time off work for migraine and to the NHS from A&E treatment.'
Professor Anne MacGregor, a migraine expert at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, said she was concerned Botox might be used as a 'quick fix' for chronic headaches.
She added: 'It's not a blanket treatment but it might be appropriate for a small number of patients.'
A decision from NICE is expected in June.