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Cox News Swrvice April 16, o2


Botox approved for cosmetic use

By Patricia Guthrie

ATLANTA _ The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday gave its long-awaited approval for using Botox cosmetically -- paving the way for the manufacturer and for plastic surgeons to crank up the volume on marketing the wrinkle warrior.

"I know the company is sinking a significant amount of money into advertising. They've been waiting years for this moment," said Dr. Harvey "Chip" Cole, director of Atlanta Oculoplastic and Cosmetic Surgery. Cole is one of several area physicians selected by Allergan Inc., the drug's manufacturer, to train other doctors in administering Botox, which is made from one of the deadliest poisons on Earth.

"The marketing launch is being compared to Viagra," Cole said.

Known as the "pretty poison," Botox is derived from the neurotoxin that causes botulism, a severe and potentially fatal form of food poisoning. Used in extremely diluted form, Botox reduces wrinkles by temporarily blocking the nerves that signal facial muscles to contract, causing wrinkles. It temporarily smooths creases around the eyes, forehead and eyebrows. Patients typically have the injection every three to six months because the effect wears off.

The cost varies around the country but averages about $400 a treatment.

Spokeswoman Christine Cassiano said Allergan is planning a direct marketing campaign. For now, she said, the company is educating plastic surgeons, dermatologists and other specialists in the use of Botox.

Metro plastic surgeons predicted the FDA decision would bring Botox a wider market and said they planned to launch their own advertising campaigns.

"I imagine you'll see a tremendous increase of demand for it in the Atlanta area, at least initially," said Dr. Peter Abramson, an Atlanta facial plastic surgeon with Premier Image Cosmetic & Laser Surgery, which hosts Botox parties monthly. "There are people who've been wanting to have the injection but were uncomfortable doing it until the FDA approved it."

People like Marti Jacobs of Druid Hills. "I was concerned about sticking toxins in my face without long-term research and FDA approval," said the 34-year-old clinical psychologist. "But now that's it's got that approval, yes, ma'am, I'm making that appointment."

Plastic surgeons have been using Botox in an "off-label" use, a common practice among doctors, who apply drugs approved for one purpose to other uses that have been observed to be effective and safe. The treatment of eye spasms, crossed eyes and a neck muscle condition are the other FDA-approved uses for Botox.

Any medical doctor can order and use Botox, but Allergan officials recommend the drug be administered only by specialists who have undergone company-sponsored training on how to safely and correctly administer it. Botox does cause rare side effects, including temporary headache, pain, droopy eyelids, nausea and flu symptoms.

The procedure has proved so popular in Atlanta that last year Premier began an after-hours "Botox club." Repeat customers who come in every three to four months for the injections are treated to an evening of noshing on cheese and shrimp and sipping chardonnay. After listening to a presentation on the risks and benefits of the procedure, they meet with Abramson in private patient rooms to get the multiple injections.

"This is something we all saw coming years ago," said Cole. "It's a very safe, quick alternative to cosmetic surgery. And I think there will be a lot more interest in it now."

Cole is among many local plastic surgeons already placing advertisements in newspapers and magazines to get the word out about their Botox services.

The number of injections have skyrocketed nationally, increasing by 2,356 percent from 1997 to 2001, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. Experts said the federal approval would take those numbers further into the stratosphere.

"It really is a miracle in a syringe," commented Dr. Malcom Paul, president of the Plastic Surgery Society, which represents 1,900 cosmetic plastic surgeons nationwide. "Risks are minimal if the procedure is done properly by careful and trained hands."

Allergan's revenue from Botox sales more than tripled from 1997 to 2001, from $90 million to $310 million. Cassiano said FDA approval could mean an increase in sales of 25 percent to 35 percent this year.

Allergan's stock closed at $65.71 Monday -- up $3.80.

-- (, April 16, 2002


A new path in the baby-boomer's never ending search for immortality

-- (, April 16, 2002.

BTW what do you men REALLY think of Angelina Jolie's lips, hmm?

-- (collagen@injections.R us), April 16, 2002.

This is only a big deal cause now Allergan can launch TV and other advertising for something that has been used off label for years. They have a cream in the works but safety of administration issues will probably keep it killed.

-- Carlos (, April 17, 2002.

Lars, I'm not sure if it's a search for immortality as much as it's a quick solution. If we have something wrong, we could easily buy a fix. Overweight, take a pill. Ugly nose, get it fixed. We're constantly reminded of what's wrong with us and constantly searching for making it better. Drink too much, get a transplant. We take no responsibility for keeping ourselves healthy. Too much fat, try liposuction. Well, at least the doctors continue to make money off this.

-- Maria (, April 17, 2002.

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