Animal Aid

BOYCOTT BOTOX! - Cosmetic scandal exposed

Posted 1 January 2004
Cutting from the Daily Mail

Thousands of animals are being poisoned to death in brutal and scientifically unreliable 'safety tests' of botox 'anti-wrinkle' preparations. This is despite the government having declared a total ban on animal tests for cosmetic products. The breach is all the more serious because the animal victims are being subjected to the crude and widely-discredited LD50 toxicity test.

Animal Aid presented a dossier of information to Daily Mail consumer affairs correspondent, Sean Poulter, who discovered the shocking fact that the government is directly profiting from the sale of animal-tested botulinum toxin, by manufacturing a botox-type product, Dysport, at its Health Protection Agency facilities at Porton Down, Wiltshire.

The Daily Mail feature, from January 27, 2004, follows below:

Outcry over Botox mice

Animal welfare groups have called for a boycott of Botox after it emerged that every batch of the anti-wrinkle treatment is tested on mice. A legal loophole means that such products are not covered by the ban on animal testing for cosmetic products because they were initially developed as medicines.

Last night, the Home Office was urged to close the loophole and Botox users were warned that they are contributing to animal suffering.

The beauty industry has seen a multi-million-pound boom in the use of treatments based on the botulinum toxin, which paralyse facial muscles to smooth the skin. But clients of cosmetic clinics are unaware that mice are injected and killed with the toxin to test the potency of each new batch of thousands of doses.

How keen the Government will be to act remains to be seen, for it is itself making millions from the treatments. One Botox-type product, Dysport, was developed by British scientists at Porton Down laboratories in the 1970s to help cure squints. It is being manufactured at Health Protection Agency (HPA) facilities at the Wiltshire site and then sold around the world for beauty and medical purposes by its commercial partner, Ipsen.

'Sacrificed on the altar of vanity'

The Daily Mail has discovered that the HPA, which carries out the mice experiments, receives a royalty running into millions of pounds every year from Ipsen. And this figure is likely to soar, with moves by Ipsen to license Dysport in Europe and the U.S. as a cosmetic treatment.

Neither Botox nor Dysport is currently licensed for cosmetic use in the UK. However, that does not stop doctors prescribing them for thousands of 'patients'. They are both created from botulinum, which is grown from bacteria. The toxin is volatile and each batch can be different. For this reason tests on mice are used to establish the potency and the dilution needed to provide safe doses.

Botox, the leading product in beauty treatments, was developed by the U.S. chemicals giant Allergan, based in Irvine, California. The doses used in Britain are manufactured in Ireland. The UK licence requires that each new batch is tested on mice.

Last night, Animal Aid, the UK's largest animal rights group, wrote to Home Office Minister Caroline Flint urging her to order manufacturers to switch to tests not involving mice. Director Andrew Tyler said: "Thousands of animals are being sacrificed on the altar of vanity." The mouse test involves injecting Botox or Dysport into a group of mice in sufficient quantities to kill 50 per cent of them.

Home Office figures show a sharp increase in mice used in animal experiments in the last few years. The total number of animal experiments rose by 110,000 in 2002, to reach 2.73million.

The Botox manufacturer, Allergan, refused to discuss any aspect of the testing, describing the details as commercially confidential. But the Daily Mail confirmed, via Britain's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, that mice are used. Both the HPA and Ipsen admitted the use of mice but insisted they are developing alternative tests. A spokesman for Ipsen said: "We estimate that 80 per cent of Dysport is used for medical applications and 20 per cent for cosmetic. Botox is probably higher in terms of cosmetic use. In an ideal world the company would not be using mice. We use animals because that is what regulators require."

Find out more about botox and animal testing:
Read our botox news bulletin and the botox factfile.

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