Thursday, October 21, 2010

Relief for Migraine Sufferers Boosts Allergan’s Stock after Fed Crackdown

For migraine sufferers, the recent FDA approval of Botox as a migraine treatment gives them access to the only thing that might actually work—injections of Botox.

Migraine victims have long awaited a drug that would avoid migraines, not just treat them after they start. Studies prove Botox’s ability to block nerves that cause a migraine. In one study, chronic migraine sufferers getting Botox injections had 9 fewer days of headaches per month compared with those receiving a placebo, who reported 6.7 fewer.

In another study that was funded by Allergan, Botox users reported 7.8 fewer days per month of any headaches (including migraines) compared with 6.4 days’ fewer headaches reported by those receiving the placebo injections.

Guilty Plea

Allergan had previously been ordered by the Justice Department to pay $375 million in fines for unauthorized promotion of Botox for headaches and cerebral palsy from 2000 to 2005. The fine was lowered to $350 million upon Allergan’s willingness to plead guilty to the charges. Allergan was also ordered to forfeit $25 million in assets and to stick to a 5-year mandated plan to disclose any payments to doctors and annually certify that their various divisions meet federal health care requirements.

Who can use it?

Men and women who have a migraine headache at least 15 days a month with pain lasting at least four hours qualify for treatment. It is assumed that health insurance carriers will approve this as a covered expense, since no other treatment has provided similar results. Treatment includes multiple injections around the neck and head every 3 months.

Allergan spokesperson, Caroline Van Hove, believes that insurers are unlikely to fight coverage of the drug since “this is a population that hasn’t responded to any of the conventional treatments.” Botox was cleared for migraine treatment earlier this summer in the UK and the company anticipates approvals in the rest of Europe and Canada yet this year.

Stock Market Reaction

Allergan (AGN) is running around $72 per share this month (Oct 2010). A month ago it was averaging $66 per share. The company, which generated $1.3 billion in 2009 sales, may earn $1 billion more in annual revenue with the migraine approval, said Aaron Gal, a Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. analyst in New York, in a May 2010 report.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cranberry Juice Can Stop Staph in its Tracks!

For many years, cranberry juice has been recommended to help prevent and treat urinary tract infections. Researchers have now discovered how cranberry juice works to avoid bacterial infections, such as Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). In urine samples collected from those who drank cranberry juice, the bacteria were not able to link together and form a film or stick to the wall of the container. This process is calld “biofilm formation.” When bacteria cannot stick together, they are more likely to be flushed out during urination instead of creating an environment for the bacteria to thrive.

The bottom line? Future studies may lead to attempts to engineer invasive medical tools such as catheters, cannulae and others to make them more bacteria-resistant.

Friday, October 8, 2010

AAFPRS: Non-Invasive Procedures Continue to Rise

A recent article from the Examiner analyzed the latest plastic surgery statistics released by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS). Not unlike last year, the AAFPRS survey reported a significant increase in non-invasive treatments amongst their 2009 plastic surgery trends.

According to the AAFPRS, non-invasive cosmetic treatments rose 47% in 2009. The Examiner sites the current economic standing as an influencer in consumer behaviors. Dermal fillers and botulinum toxin A injections are growing in popularity because, even though their results are temporary, they are much more cost effective compared to invasive surgery.

Of the physicians surveyed, another 80% reported that patients were seeking non-invasive treatments as means to staying competitive in the workplace. The procedures with the largest amount of growth were as follows:
• Poly-l-lactic acid (Sculptra®)-up 71%
Chemical peels-up 52%
• Hyaluronic acid (Juvederm®, Restylane®)-up 48%
• Botulinum toxin type A (Botox®, Dysport®)-up 45%

The majority of surgeons surveyed (77%) reported that patients are also more educated about their plastic surgery options. Patients are spending more time researching different procedures, costs, recovery time and physician qualifications before even stepping into a surgeon’s office.

The survey also found that women continue to be the majority of facial plastic surgery candidates, accounting for 84% of all non-invasive and surgical procedures.

The surgical procedures with the increases and decreases were:
Ablative skin resurfacing (up 57%)
• Revision surgery (up 18%)
Facelifts (up 14%)
• Lip augmentation (DOWN 52%)
Rhinoplasty (DOWN 13%)

As we continue to see FDA approval for new products such as Xeomin and PurTox, the number of non-invasive procedures performed will surely continue to rise. New non-invasive technologies are continually being developed and put on the market.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Aesthetic Surgery Market Expected to Double by 2017

The cosmetics industry is growing, but by just how much? According to iData Research, a Vancouver-based pharmaceutical market research firm, the market for facial aesthetics, lasers and cosmetic surgery is expected to double—exceeding $3 billion by 2017.

The U.S. market for facial injectables is currently worth almost $860 million. The expected introduction of new injectables—such as Mentor’s PurTox and Merz's Xeomin—as well as their increasing therapeutic uses will contribute to market growth.

“A growing number of doctors are looking at the therapeutic potential of botulinum A. There are more cosmetic procedures performed using botulinum A than therapeutic; however, therapeutic procedures use higher doses of the drug, therefore these two markets are similar in value,” says Kamran Zamanian, Ph.D., iData CEO.

The iData report predicts that the value of the botulinum toxin A market segment alone will reach $543 million within seven years. Cosmetic Surgery Times also cited laser skin resurfacing, hair removal and lipolysis as the fastest-growing market segments.

Perhaps the FDA approval of new devices, such as Zeltiq, (and hopefully Ultrashape and Liposonix) will help the market meet or even exceed these predictions. I supposed we will have to wait seven years to see!