February 12, 2008

Anti-Wrinkle Drugs Could Cause Deaths

The anti-wrinkle drug Botox and a competitor have been linked to dangerous botulism symptoms that have caused deaths for a few children that were given the drugs for muscle spasms. Botox, a wrinkle-specific version called Botox Cosmetic, and Myobloc are all drugs that use botulism toxin to block nerve impulses and cause the nerves to relax. In some cases, the toxin can spread from the area of injection to other parts of the body and paralyze or weaken the muscles used for breathing and swallowing, which can be fatal and cause death.

Botox is known for reducing the appearance of wrinkles by paralyzing facial muscles. Botulism toxin is mostly used for muscle spasm conditions, such as cervical dystonia or severe neck spasms. A person should get help immediately if they suffer from symptoms of botulism. The symptoms would include difficulty swallowing or breathing, slurred speech, muscle weakness, or difficulty holding up the head.

The FDA is investigating the deaths of children that were being treated for spasticity in their legs due to cerebral palsy. The FDA is also probing reports of people that used the drugs and had gotten sick, this includes a woman who was given Botox for forehead wrinkles and had to be hospitalized. The Public Citizen advocacy group has cited 180 reports of U.S. patients that suffered fluid in their lungs, difficulty swallowing, or pneumonia. This number includes 16 deaths.

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