Botox: The Wonder Drug?

by Matthew Dello Russo

Botox: The Wonder Drug?

With a monumental merger set to close in the second half of 2016, Pfizer, Inc. (NYSE:PFE) and Allergan, Plc (NYSE:AGN) have set the table for steady and sustainable long-term growth in 2017 and beyond. The unanimously agreed upon merger builds upon Allergan’s 2014 acquisition of Actavis and creates a new global biopharmaceutical powerhouse with more than 100 combined programs already in development.

“The proposed combination of Pfizer and Allergan will create a leading global pharmaceutical company with the strength to research, discover and deliver more medicines and therapies to more people around the world,” stated Ian Read, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Pfizer.

The primary reason for Allergan’s continued growth and success? The injectable drug Botox, responsible for more than one third of Allergan’s total sales. Botox finished just shy of $2 billion in sales in 2013 –marking a 12% increase from 2012.

Botox’s path to the title of Miracle Drug is long and convoluted – considering it is derived from one of the most poisonous substances known to man, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, FDA-approved Botox is in extremely high demand and is used for countless medical conditions, with over 6 billion injections each year, Botox is used to treat everything from lines and wrinkles to excessive underarm sweating.

The applications of Botox as we know it stem from studies conducted by Dr. Vernon Brooks in 1953. Brooks discovered that injecting small amounts of crystalline botulinum toxin type A into a hyperactive muscle successfully blocked the release of acetylcholine from motor nerve endings, leading to temporary paralysis of the muscle.

Years later, ophthalmologist Dr. Alan B. Scott tested his theory that the same toxin could treat crossed eyes (strabismus), and published his findings in 1980. Clinical trials were conducted with individuals suffering from various degrees of strabismus with encouraging results; so encouraging, in fact, that Allergan acquired the rights to botulinum toxin type A from Dr. Scott in 1988, pushing for FDA approval and dubbing the injectable drug Botox.

Just one year after Allergan’s acquisition, the FDA would begin issuing approvals for Botox to treat numerous medical conditions. These approvals include cervical dystonia in 2000, glabellar (frown) lines in 2002, excessive sweating in 2004, and crow’s feet in 2013.

Botox has become increasingly popular due to its minimally invasive application and its low risk of side effects. Generally, Botox injections are well tolerated and extremely effective – only around 1% of people receiving injections develop antibodies to the toxin, rendering subsequent treatments ineffective.

At its recent R&D day, Allergan announced that it had identified 18 possible uses for Botox moving forward – six of which are already being considered by the FDA. These new applications include treatment for new cosmetic areas, cerebral palsy and unspecified heart conditions.

If you or someone you know would like more information about Botox, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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