Fake Botox Resulted in Illness Across 9 States

Fake Botox is being linked to an outbreak that has made 19 people sick in 9 states, causing 9 hospitalizations
Fake Botox injection is being linked to an outbreak that has made19 people sick in 9 states, causing 9 hospitalizations. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Fake Botox injection is being linked to an outbreak that has made19 people sick in 9 states, causing 9 hospitalizations. (Representational image: Unsplash)

After getting Botox injections,19 people across nine states have reported harmful adverse effects of Botulism. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unsafe counterfeit versions of Botox injections had been found in multiple states and had been administered to people for cosmetic reasons. 

The products appear to have been purchased from unlicensed sources and could be misbranded, adulterated, counterfeit, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective and/or unsafe.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is coordinating an investigation into sickness linked with Botox injections, across several states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is coordinating an investigation into sickness linked with Botox injections, across several states. (Representational image: Unsplash)
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is coordinating an investigation into sickness linked with Botox injections, across several states. (Representational image: Unsplash)

Out of the 19 people who received the Botox injection, 9 were hospitalized, and 4 were treated with the Botulism Antitoxin. The antitoxin is used to reduce the effect of the Botulinum toxin that could have spread beyond the injection site. According to the reports of CDC, the harmful reactions included blurry and double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, slurred speech, difficulty breathing, tiredness, and weakness.

According to various sources, the injections were administered in a "non-medical setting" such as cosmetic spas or at home.

The reactions to fake Botox have been reported in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, and Washington so far, the agency said.

Fake Botox injection is being linked to an outbreak that has made19 people sick in 9 states, causing 9 hospitalizations. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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A similar case occurred last week in two states, Illinois and Tennessee, half a dozen cases involving botulism-like symptoms were reported following shots of potentially counterfeit products. After that, another 13 cases have been reported in an another seven states, with all involving women injected with fake Botox by licensed and unlicensed individuals in non-medical settings, such as at homes or spas, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"Botulinum toxin should only be administered by licensed and trained providers, using recommended doses of FDA-approved botulinum toxin, preferably in a licensed or accredited healthcare setting."

Michelle Waltenburg, DVM, MPH, Epidemiologist, CDC's Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases

Along with Botox manufacturer AbbVie, FDA is working to identify, investigate and remove suspected fake Botox found in the U.S.

Currently, there's nothing to indicate the sickness are linked to the company's FDA-approved Botox, because the genuine product are safe and effective for its approved uses, the FDA noted.

Packages of FDA-approved Botox has an active ingredient “OnabotulinumtoxinA” listed on the outer carton and vial. The only FDA-approved doses are 50-, 100-, and 200-unit doses.
Currently, there's nothing to indicate the sickness are linked to the company's FDA-approved Botox injection, because the genuine product are safe and effective for its approved uses, the FDA noted. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Currently, there's nothing to indicate the sickness are linked to the company's FDA-approved Botox injection, because the genuine product are safe and effective for its approved uses, the FDA noted. (Representational image: Unsplash)

Protect yourself Against Counterfeit Botox

According to the FDA, there are several signs of a mishandled product that may appear on packaging for fake Botox:

  • The outer carton and vial contain lot number C3709C3.

  • The outer carton displays the active ingredient as “Botulinum Toxin Type A” instead of “OnabotulinumtoxinA.”

  • The outer carton and vial indicates 150-unit doses, which is not a unit made by AbbVie or Allergan.

  • The outer carton contains language that is not English.

The patient should insist on seeing the product that they are going to be injected with, not a blank syringe full of who knows what liquid, and they should see the product being prepared in front of them.

Andy Pickett, PhD, Director and Founder of Toxin Science Limited

If there is any doubt, individuals should not get the injection and if there are any symptoms of botulism, medical attention should be sought immediately.

(Input from various sources) 

(Rehash/Dr Pragati Priya/MSM)

Fake Botox injection is being linked to an outbreak that has made19 people sick in 9 states, causing 9 hospitalizations. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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