There are three brands of Botulinum Toxin Type A, a prescription medicine licensed in the UK for cosmetic use for the temporary improvement of frown lines when they are causing psychological distress. Botox, the heritage brand name has become synonymous with all injectable facial treatments. Botox is the treatment requested when I take an enquiry, sometimes when dermal filler is indicated but the difference in treatments is not understood. Research indicates that 84% of people do not know with which brand they were treated and could only name Botox. Only one third of practitioners inform their patients which product they are injecting and only 20% of this one third give information about the difference.
It is important that it is understood that ALL the licensed brands are safe and effective when injected correctly. Although the results will be good for most people the required dose varies and is not always obvious before treatment. There are ways in which the alternative brands are judged to be preferable to ‘Botox’, and for many people reassurance that the Toxin used will be safe and effective is as much information as they feel they need.
What is not considered to be ethical is to obtain consent to treat with Botox and then inject with an alternative, a common practice in the Non-Surgical Medical Cosmetic industry. When push come to shove, the majority of people prefer to be treated with BOTOX; combined together the majority of Doctors, Nurses and others use the alternative brands Bocouture and Azzalure (Vistabel IS Botox).
In medicine generally, and in the NHS especially ‘generic’ prescribing is practiced and encouraged i.e. to prescribe a drug by its name and not its brand: in this case Botulinum Toxin Type A rather than Botox. Generic prescribing ensures the cheapest version of a drug can be dispensed by the pharmacist, for example ‘paracetamol’ (the active drug) rather than ‘Panadol’ (the brand). Botox, being the leading brand of Botulinum Toxin Type A is no exception in being the most expensive, and as per ‘best prescribing practice’ the cheapest version may be selected for treatment.
In Non-Surgical Medical Cosmetics rather than saving money for the NHS, this practice increases profit. So, although you can be fairly confident the toxin used in training situations, special offers or for cheap treatments will not be Botox, the reverse is not so certain, a high price, a highly qualified ‘Plastic Surgeon’ or a high end clinic will guarantee nothing: they are often using toxin sold to them at greatly discounted prices as inducement to adopt the brand.
Websites can be misleading with Botox logos and a line somewhere buried in the text stating that you will be treated with ‘the toxin selected for you by your doctor’ or some such get out clause. The only way you will know whether it is Botox or ‘Faux-tox’ is to ask…. unless you are informed, as you would be if I was treating you.
Having said all of that I do want you to be assured that the alternative licensed brands are equally safe and effective; you do not question the brand of other medicines prescribed for you, and do not need to worry about this medicine either unless, of course, you are confidant that only BOTOX will do for you!
Please note: I always offer alternative brands as a lower cost treatment passing on the saving to my clients.