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Safety Alert: Essential Guidance for Dermatologists on Counterfeit Botox

Featuring Cheri Frey, MD |

Assistant Professor, Dermatology & Residency Program Director 
Director of Cosmentic Dermatology
Howard University
Washington, DC

| Published April 22, 2024

In this installment of Topical Conversations, Cheri Frey, MD, an assistant professor of dermatology at Howard University, comments on the concerning issue of counterfeit Botox recently highlighted by an FDA notice. 

A critical safety notice 

The FDA has issued a safety notice to health care practitioners and the public regarding the presence of a counterfeit version of Botox found in the United States, which may have been sold to doctors’ offices and medical clinics nationwide. This counterfeit product, distributed by an unlicensed supplier unauthorized to distribute drug products in the US, poses a significant risk to public health. 

Recognizing the symptoms 

Dr Frey details some of the severe health complications seen in patients who received counterfeit Botox products, including difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing, and blurry vision; in some cases, patients required hospitalization and treatment with an antitoxin. 

Importance of counseling patients 

She emphasizes the critical need for dermatologists to disseminate this information not only among their peers but also to patients and their networks. She stresses the importance of counseling individuals seeking botulinum injections to visit licensed providers, whose qualifications vary by state. 

Ensuring patient safety 

Dr Frey underscores the significance of dermatologists being vigilant about recognizing the signs and symptoms of counterfeit botulinum toxin complications. Additionally, she stresses the importance of counseling patients who may be affected to seek immediate emergency care at the first indication of trouble.


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