The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has requested more information before it can recommend Botox for the treatment of chronic migraines on the NHS.
In 2010 the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency approved Botox as a preventative treatment for chronic migraine in the UK. The therapy, which uses a purified version of botulinum toxin A, blocks overactive nerve impulses which trigger excessive muscle contractions.
The International Headache Society defines chronic migraine as more than fifteen headache days per month over a three month period, of which more than eight are migraines. It is estimated that this condition affects less than 1 per cent of the population, but this still means that there over 610,000 chronic migraine sufferers in the UK.
According to the charity Migraine Action, sufferers of chronic migraines will pay around £400-£600 a time for private treatment with Botox. 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.
NICE has now asked for more information from the manufacturer Allergan before making a final decision on whether to fund the treatment on the NHS.
NICE estimates the cost of the treatment to the NHS to be £349.40 for every 12-week cycle of treatment. After reviewing evidence for Allergan, NICE found Botox to show ‘some benefit’ in clinical trials, but was compounded by a large placebo effect.
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 about the use of Botox on the NHS is expected in June. Until then, self-pay patients can continue to benefit from the treatment in the private sector.
Unfortunately, since these migraines are considered a chronic condition, it is unlikely that private health insurers will cover the cost of Botox treatment. For more information, take a look at our page on chronic conditions, or speak to one of our advisors to find out more.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2012