Longitudinal studies of botulinum toxin in cervical dystonia: Why do patients discontinue therapy?

for the Dystonia Coalition Investigators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Background: Numerous studies have established botulinum toxin (BoNT) to be safe and effective for the treatment of cervical dystonia (CD). Despite its well-documented efficacy, there has been growing awareness that a significant proportion of CD patients discontinue therapy. The reasons for discontinuation are only partly understood. Methods: This summary describes longitudinal studies that provided information regarding the proportions of patients discontinuing BoNT therapy, and the reasons for discontinuing therapy. The data come predominantly from un-blinded long-term follow-up studies, registry studies, and patient-based surveys. Results: All types of longitudinal studies provide strong evidence that BoNT is both safe and effective in the treatment of CD for many years. Overall, approximately one third of CD patients discontinue BoNT. The most common reason for discontinuing therapy is lack of benefit, often described as primary or secondary non-response. The apparent lack of response is only rarely related to true immune-mediated resistance to BoNT. Other reasons for discontinuing include side effects, inconvenience, cost, or other reasons. Discussion: Although BoNT is safe and effective in the treatment of the majority of patients with CD, approximately one third discontinue. The increasing awareness of a significant proportion of patients who discontinue should encourage further efforts to optimize administration of BoNT, to improve BoNT preparations to extend duration or reduce side effects, to develop add-on therapies that may mitigate swings in symptom severity, or develop entirely novel treatment approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


  • Botulinum toxin
  • Cervical dystonia
  • Dystonia
  • Torticollis
  • Treatment


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