CDC probe into fake Botox grows: 5 notes

Health officials are now investigating at least 22 reports of harmful reactions linked to counterfeit or mishandled Botox injections in 11 states, the CDC said in an April 19 update. The agency first announced the probe earlier this. At that time, it was investigating illnesses in five states. 

All the harmful reactions have come from women ages 25 to 59 and were reported between Nov. 4 and March 31. 

Five notes about the reports and scope of the outbreak: 

  1. Cases of harmful reactions have been reported in California, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Patients reported a range of bad reactions, from blurry vision to difficulty breathing. 

  2. Of the 20 patients for which information was available, 11 were hospitalized, six of whom were treated with botulism antitoxin due to corners the product may have spread beyond the injection site. One person required ICU care. 

  3. All those affected said they received injections from unlicensed or untrained people, or in non-healthcare settings such as homes and spas. 

  4. The agency said public health and regulatory officials found some people received injections with fake products or products with "unverified sources." An investigation is ongoing, though the FDA has said there is no indication that authentic Botox is linked to any of the illnesses, according to NBC News. 

"The question is, is this 'faux-tox' all one and the same?" Adam Friedman, MD, dermatologist and chair of dermatology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., told the news outlet. "Or are multiple people creating different versions of it? We don't know the answer to that." 

  1. The CDC said patients should inquire about whether their providers are licensed and trained to give the injection when considering Botox. Some states have a license look-up tool to do so. They should also ask whether the product is approved by the FDA. Read the CDC's alert in full here

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