Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Licensed Botox Is Safe; Unlicensed Botulinum Toxin Products May Not Be

WebMD Health News

Beware Bogus Botox

Nov. 21, 2006 -- Botox is safe when used properly, but unlicensed knockoffs may be dangerous.

That's the bottom line from a report in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

The researchers included the CDC's Daniel Chertow, MD, MPH.

They investigated four Florida botulism cases that occurred in late November 2004 in people who got facial shots of an unlicensed, highly concentrated botulinum toxin product.

Botulism is a rare, potentially fatal disease caused by the botulinum bacteria. Botulism can cause paralysis.

Cases Not Linked to Botox

It's important to note that Botox wasn't involved in the Florida botulism cases.

Botox is a licensed drug containing tiny amounts of botulinum toxin A; its uses include relaxing certain facial muscles to smooth out wrinkles.

Chertow's team notes no CDC reports of any lab-confirmed botulism cases linked to Botox.

The Florida cases involved an unlicensed, highly concentrated botulinum toxin product labeled for research purposes only.

The product "was never intended or approved for use in humans," write Chertow and colleagues.

They investigated the cases, which WebMD first reported on in December 2004.

What Happened

The researchers say staff at a Florida clinic got the unlicensed product and diluted it.

The dilution process went wrong, leaving the solution with very high levels of botulinum toxin, but the clinic staff apparently didn't know that.

A clinic doctor gave himself and three patients four to six facial injections of the diluted solution for cosmetic purposes.

Within a few days, all four were hospitalized with botulism.

Their symptoms: progressive weakness and cranial neuropathies (abnormality of certain nerves in the face and neck that control functions including sensation, facial muscle movement, and swallowing).

Two of them also had shortness of breath.

All survived after lengthy hospital stays.

"Physicians and patients must be aware of the hazards associated with illegitimate use of unlicensed botulinum toxin products," write Chertow and colleagues.

"Only licensed products should be used clinically," the researchers add.

URAC: Accredited Health Web Site TRUSTe online privacy certification HONcode Seal AdChoices