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Botox use on migraines gains support


4 Star

Botox use on migraines gains support

Our Review Summary

Botox, or Botulinum Toxin Type A is typically regarded as a way to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. However, it is increasingly being used to treat disorders related to overactive muscles and twiching because of the temporary muscle paralysis that Botox causes. This story reports on a news release by Allergan, the manufacturer of Botox, about the results of a new study looking at Botox as a preventive measure for chronic migraine sufferers.

This story does a commendable job outlining the evidence to support Botox use for this indication. It rightly points out that there are serious questions about the methodology and that the details of the study have not been made available. Furthermore, it accurately describes the availability and novelty of Botox and is careful to quote multiple, independent experts who provide valuable perspective.

The story could have been improved by describing the costs of Botox injections, and mentioning possible harms or side effects and the alternative treatment options, of which there are many.

Overall, a very well balanced and informative piece that could have easily gotten off course.


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The study does not mention the costs of the injections nor does it comment on whether insurance would be likely to cover it for migraines.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story rightly points out that Botox did not signficantly reduce the number of headache episodes in the study but that it did reduce the number of days the patients said they suffered from headaches. Although the study does not quantify the difference, these data have not been released by the drug company. In all, the story did a good job of providing balance, by framing the results as being greeted with reactions ranging from "exhuberance to caution" which set a nice balanced tone from the start.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The study does not mention any potential harms of botox injection. While the procedure is safe, there are some risks that would be important to mention and consumers should also be told that they should seek out a practitioner who is skilled and experienced in providing the injections.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?


The story does a very good job of describing the strength of the available evidence, including the challenge of how to appropriately measure headache duration or severity. The story also rightly points out that the details of the current study have not yet been released.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?


The story does not exagerrate the seriousness or prevalence of chronic migraines and is clear to repeatedly mention that chronic, severe migraines are the indication in question, not everyday garden-variety headaches.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?


The story quotes multiple experts who provide valuable persepctive.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention alternative treatments for migraines, of which there are many.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story clearly states that Botox is available and FDA-approved for several other indications.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


Clearly Botox is not a new idea, but it is not approved to treat chronic migraines.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


Because the study quotes multiple independent experts, the reader can assume the story did not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 7 of 10 Satisfactory


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