Botox founder cannot use it on himself


Lord of Penmai
Jul 5, 2011
Botox founder cannot use it on himself

Millions of women including Hollywood stars have Dr Alan Scott to thank for their wrinkle free alabaster skin. But the irony is that the ophthalmologist from San Francisco, who discovered the wonder drug Botox in the 1970s while searching for a cure for crossed eyes, isn't that lucky himself.

"I wish I could use Botox on myself to do away with my wrinkles. Unfortunately I can't. Because I work with the dangerous botulinum toxin - a nerve poison produced by a bacteria that paralyzes muscles and is the foundation of Botox, I am vaccinated against it. Botox will not work on me," he told TOI in an exclusive interview.

In India to attend a conference in Hyderabad, Dr Scott rued having handed over the drug to pharma company Allergen. Saying he had no idea that Botox would become so big, he said, "If I knew, I would have never given it to the drug company Allergen in 1991. At present Botox is being used for over 100 disorders besides aesthetic applications."

In a candid chat with TOI Dr Scott said, "It was then a satisfactory deal for which I got around $4.5 million. However, I haven't been associated with it for 15 years now. Now, it gives me maybe a little satisfaction but no money."

He laughed and added, "If I held on to Botox, maybe I could have made a billion dollars a year now." What fascinates Dr Scott most is how the drug he found has become so effective against varied diseases. "Botox makes muscles relax and weakens those which are overactive. Initially when I developed it, I knew it could do wonders for neurological disorders. However, I had absolutely no idea it could work so well as a cosmetic agent. Millions of women are now using it for face upliftment," he said.

But does Dr Scott encourage teens to undergo Botox procedures? "Botox has been found to be safe for young people. It is however not clear what will happen after decades of use. Maybe the facial muscles will weaken and sag. But we know that it works in reducing facial wrinkles. Most women don't care what will happen years later. They just want the wrinkles to disappear now," he said.

Botox is currently approved in India and approximately 80 countries for 21 different indications. It is a purified form of botulinum toxin, a nerve poison produced by the bacteria that cause a disease that paralyzes muscles. Injections of Botox act by blunting chemical nerve signals to certain muscles or glands, reducing their activity.

Botox was developed in the 1970s by Dr Scott with some help from a biochemist who had isolated and purified a strain of botulinum toxin for military use as a biological weapon.

Dr Scott had then named the drug Oculinum. In 1989, the US FDA approved it to treat crossed eyes and twitching eyelids. Allergan bought Oculinum in 1991 rebranding it Botox. Annual sales of Botox now exceeds $1 billion.

"Initially when I transferred the drug to Allergen, expected to sell 20,000 vials annually at around $200 a vial. However millions of vials got sold. Now you might have to shell out $500 for a Botox session," Dr Scott said.

Botox was first approved in 1989 to treat two eye muscle disorders -- uncontrollable blinking ( blepharospasm) and misaligned eyes (strabismus). In 2000, the toxin was approved to treat a neurological movement disorder that causes severe neck and shoulder contractions, known as cervical dystonia. As an unusual side effect of the eye disorder treatment, doctors observed that Botox softened the vertical frown (glabellar) lines between the eyebrows that tend to make people look tired, angry or displeased. By April 2002, the FDA was satisfied by its review of studies indicating that Botox reduced the severity of frown lines for up to 120 days. The agency then granted approval to use the drug for this condition.

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