Botox, an injectable treatment for wrinkles caused by excess muscle activity, has had a monopoly and virtual stranglehold on the market of non-invasive wrinkle treatment since it was first approved by the FDA. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) estimates that 2.4 million Botox injections were performed in 2008 alone.The only competition thus far had been from injectable fillers, such as Juvederm and Restylane, which work by injecting a soft substance beneath the wrinkle to fill it out. This monopoly has allowed Allergan, the company behind Botox, to increase the cost of Botox to physician providers by greater than 40%over the past 5-7 years.
Now at last we have an alternative. The FDA recently approved the product Dysport for the cosmetic treatment of wrinkles between the eyebrows, the same approval that has been given to Botox. Both products are also effective in other areas of muscle hyperactivity, such as the forehead and crows feet around the eyes. Thus far it appears that Dysport will be priced at a competitive advantage over Botox and information released thus far suggests that the effects may last longer (about 4 months) compared to the 3 months expected of Botox.
Both Botox and Dysport work the same way in that they selectively impair contraction of muscle fibers. As a result, the wrinkles that are caused by repetitive, excessive muscle contraction naturally soften and it some cases disappear.
Some patients might initially shy away from a new product because it does not have the same track record of success. However, Dysport has been used in the United Kingdom under a different brand name since 1991 with over 2 million patients treated. The safety and success are considered to be on par with Botox.
The release of Dysport is good news for the consumer. The presence of a viable competitor should stimulate both companies to maintain the highest standards and prevent the costs from continuing to spiral upwards. It is probably not a coincidence that Allergan is offering patients a $50 rebate for a single Botox treatment for the first time. Fortunately Dysport is offering a $75discount. As the weak economy has shifted some patients away from cosmetic surgery and towards less invasive treatments, this new alternative could not have come at a better time.