Animal Aid

ANIMAL-TESTED BOTOX - Where's the beauty in that?

Posted 1 January 2004

The animal testing of botox 'vanity treatments' is taking place because of a cynical exploitation of the fact that botulinum toxin is also a medicine - used to treat squints, involuntary twitches and facial spasms. At the production stage, however, no regulatory distinction is made between batches destined for cosmetic as opposed to pharmaceutical use: they are all batch-tested in the same way.

To test each batch, at least 100 mice are divided into groups, injected with escalating doses of the toxin to see what dose kills half the mice in a particular group. The mice experience impaired vision, paralysis of the body and, in the worst cases, paralysis of the diaphragm, which leads to death by suffocation.

Suggestions that cosmetic botox is a minor by-product of the therapeutic sector and that any animal testing is, therefore, 'incidental', ignores the fact that the biggest growth area for the toxin is as an anti-wrinkle treatment.

In the years leading up to the partial ban on the LD50 test, its use was decreasing dramatically, and this trend should have continued. However, according to the Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments (FRAME), LD50 numbers increased significantly in 2001, with a further rise in 2002. The increases correlate with a surge in the popularity of cosmetic botox. In the US, between 1998 and 2002, the use of botox for cosmetic procedures increased by 1500%.

Not only is this an animal welfare scandal, it is a betrayal of all those who take botox treatments - whether for medical or cosmetic reasons - and imagine this highly dangerous substance has been properly safety tested. It has not. The LD50 is appallingly crude, antiquated and unreliable. The twofold breach of solemn government undertakings - that no more animals would be killed to test cosmetics; and that the LD50 would not be allowed again where a "scientifically suitable alternative was available" is scandalous, given that non-animal methods are already available.

Animal Aid has written to Home Office Minister, Caroline Flint, urging her to order the immediate implementation of non-animal test methods, and the Committee on Safety of Medicines, calling for an immediate ban on the cosmetic use of botox.

Click to read Animal Aid's letter to the Home Office
Click to read Animal Aid's letter to the Committee on Safety of Medicines

Our campaign is supported by Cindy Jackson, cosmetic surgery guru and animal rights campaigner. Cindy is known for her Barbie-doll looks achieved through extensive, and high-profile, use of cosmetic surgery. Ms Jackson has pledged not to recommend Botox through her information service.

Says Cindy Jackson:

"I have suffered for the sake of beauty, but that was my choice. Laboratory animals have no choice. They are forced to endure the most agonising deaths imaginable, all in the name of profit. For many years I have boycotted animal-tested cosmetics and openly encouraged others to do the same. I consider use of these products tantamount to applying cruelty and suffering directly to my face. If Botox injections are putting people at risk and causing animal tests to skyrocket, the public has a right to know and to demand that safer, more reliable and humane methods be used. We can either support true inner beauty by insisting on human safety and compassion for animals - or help perpetuate questionable science and unnecessary suffering. Where's the beauty in that?"

Find out more about botox and animal testing.
Read our botox factfile and the botox feature from the Daily Mail.

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