Boxes of counterfeit Botox are being distributed across the country to doctors' offices and medical clinics, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The fake product is unsafe and should not be used.
The bogus product is in packaging that is similar enough to the real Botox, which is marketed by Allergan, that health professionals could be fooled.
The real Botox package and vials lists the product's generic name as onabotulinumtoxinA. The bogus package says Botulinum Toxin Type A. In addition, vials of the fake product are missing a lot number.
There have been no reports of anyone being harmed by the bogus Botox, according to the FDA. It is not known if the fake product has any active ingredient in it or whether it was produced under sterile conditions, an important consideration in a drug that must be injected.
The FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations has looked into cases of fake Botox several times in the past. In some cases, the product being passed off as Botox contained botulinum toxin that was supposed to be used for research purposes and that was not approved for use in people. In many cases, healthcare professionals (or people pretending to be healthcare professionals) were passing off the fake Botox as the real McCoy.
Health professionals should contact Allergan to ensure that the distributor from whom they are obtaining their product is authorized to sell Botox. Allergan has a list of authorized Botox distributors on its website.
The most common use for Botox is to temporarily smooth wrinkles and creases on the face. Botox is actually a toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which paralyzes muscles. Very tiny doses of Botox temporarily paralyze the facial muscles that cause a wrinkle or crease, allowing it to smooth out.
However, Botox is used in several medical conditions. It is used to treat chronic migraine headaches, spastic muscles, severe underarm sweating, and uncontrolled blinking.