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New hope for wrinkles. (Products & Processes). (Allergan's Botox).

Science has harnessed the most poisonous substance on earth in a medical anti-wrinkle breakthrough that is causing more excitement than Viagra. The new life-style drug, Botox, is a by-product of the lethal botulinum bacterium, is said to work wonders in smoothing away the wrinkles in ageing faces. In cosmetic treatments, doctors inject the drug into facial muscles that cause wrinkling. Botox blocks a substance called acetylcholine which transmits signals from the brain that paralyses the muscle. The skin stays smooth for about three months, after which time the muscles wake up and the wrinkles reappear. Another shot is then necessary (at around $400 a pop).

Botox's makers, pharmaceutical firm Allergan of the United States, expect approval from the Federal Drug Administration this year, and already the company's counter is rising on the New York Stock Exchange. Says analyst Gred Gilbert: "Botox absolutely has the potential to become a billion-dollar drug for Allergan." Another analyst, Tim Chiang of the Bank of America, says Botox "is an in-vogue product. It's like having a fashion designer handbag."

Possible side effects include bruising or nausea, and it can erase facial expression with droopy eyelids and eyebrows for a week or two. The drug was first used 10 years ago for treating crossed eyes.

Medical commentator Simon Avery notes: "Botox has erased early wrinkles on young women, flattened the furrowed brows of middle-aged TV anchor-people, removed sweat stains from under the arms of ramp models and even erased gamblers' unwanted facial expressions."
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Publication:African Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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