Fake Botox Is Sending People to the Hospital

Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images
Photo by Bob Riha, Jr./Getty Images

Off-brand Botox products from unlicensed sources are causing adverse reactions and hospitalizations across the country, according to the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.

At least 19 women across nine states reported experiencing bad reactions to unlicensed Botox treatments or Botox treatments from untrained professionals, the CDC reported on Monday. Nine of those women were hospitalized, and four were treated with a botulism antitoxin.

The botulism-like sickness can occur when the botulinum toxin, which relaxes muscles when applied to a specific area, spreads throughout the body. The toxin can cause paralysis in the respiratory muscles, making it difficult to breathe. Five people were tested for botulism and all of them tested negative for the illness.

Symptoms of bad Botox included weakness, blurry vision, difficulty breathing and swallowing, and dry mouth, the CDC reported.

In a press release from the FDA on Tuesday, the list of symptoms was expanded to also include constipation and incontinence.

“Medications purchased from unlicensed sources may be misbranded, adulterated, counterfeit, contaminated, improperly stored and transported, ineffective and/or unsafe,” the FDA said.

The CDC, FDA, and local health departments are all investigating the concerning public health trend, and making efforts to remove counterfeit Botox products.

No adverse reactions have been linked to AbbVie’s Botox, which is licensed and FDA-approved, the agency said.

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