Botox or Botulinum toxin which is its generic name, has emerged as the single most popular drug in the field of cosmetic treatment creating profound impact in the market place. A very powerful neurotoxin, the drug when used in prescribed doses and manner has been shown to block messages from the nervous system from reaching overactive muscles, thereby relaxing them and reducing the over-activity.

Botox is very effective in treating wrinkles, muscular disorder in head and neck, squints, excessive blinking, excessive sweating and some other afflictions. The maker of Botox, Allegan Inc, of Irvine, California has recently received FDA approval for treating migraine pain and urinary incontinence, and is working to get approval to treat other bladder related issues.

They are also reportedly looking into use of Botox for treating arthritis pain in the knee. There are other products such as Dysport and Xeomin belonging to the same generic group, made by other companies but till date, Botox remains the dominant market leader.

Though the story of Botulinum toxin goes quite a long way back, the beginning of the rise of Botox started in April 2002 when Allergan received FDA approval for its use to temporarily improve the appearance of frown lines between the eyebrows. But this FDA approval and rise of Botox had its origin in the work of  husband wife  team of  Dr J D Carruthers, a dermatologist and of  Dr J A Carruthers, an ophthalmologist who published the first study on BTX-A for treating glabellar frown lines in 1992.

An anecdotal account tells that a few years prior to that,  Dr Carruthers, the ophthalmologist wife while treating a patient in 1987 for facial muscle spasms, got a feel about the power of Botox on hearing the patient’s comment that whenever  she injected  Botox at a certain point he got ” this beautiful, untroubled expression.” This led her to think about using Botox to treat the frown lines which she knew from her dermatologist husband to be tough to remove and the couple’s several years of experiments then on, helped in paving the way for  the FDA  approval of the drug later on.

Since FDA approval about a decade ago, the dermatologists and plastic surgeons have been using the botulinum toxin extensively in treating diverse cases with more people coming forward for treatment. The increased consultations are allowing the specialists to present the big range of treatments available and to get further work.

Botox treatment has grown from $ 90 million per year business in 1997 to the projected 1.8 billion in 2012. It now occupies the number one position by far in cosmetic treatment segment. The number of Botox injections given was 5.6 million last year excluding the injections of other rival products Dysport and Xeomin. The huge popularity is because people prefer Botox injection to plastic surgery as it is more affordable, nearly painless and there is no down time.

The effect of Botox lasts from 3 months and patients, who are mostly happy with the treatment results and also with the comparatively lower costs than other procedures, are inclined to return a few times in a year for the injections. This boosts up Drug sales.

The temporary effect of Botox has few sides effects, such as injections at wrong locations or muscles deadened a little too much, which would not be affected for too long. It is known that effect of Botox might sometimes travel beyond the treated location to other areas and in such cases also, the effects are temporary.

Though Botox is made from one of the deadliest known toxins, there are no long term significant safety risks from Botox which has so far been injected millions of times,  as per Mathew Avram, director of the dermatology laser and cosmetic center at Massachusetts General Hospital., who receives no funding from Allergan. Dr Carruthers couple who had researched on Botox and subsequently treated patients with the drug, stated that they did not receive any funding from Allergan.