Botulinum Toxin Type A: Botox has a long shelf life
2011 Syed Akbar Hyderabad, April 2: In a boon to people who want to look young, a city researcher has found that Botulinum Toxin Type A, popularly known as Botox, can be stored after unsealing for as long as six weeks. Untill now a Botox vial is discarded within four hours of its opening. Believing that it has a low shelf life, doctors discard the vial after treating a patient, though it has medicine enough for four people. This in other words means, a patient undergoing Botox treatment spends three times more on the medicine. Animal studies by senior plastic surgeon Dr Debraj Shome have shown that Botox is not a fragile molecule and its shelf life can be increased to as long as six weeks, provided it is kept in a refrigerator. Since the opened vial can be used for three more sittings, the cost of treatment comes down drastically, enabling more people to go in for Botox injections. "Botox is one of the fastest emerging solutions for people who want to look young and clear wrinkles on their faces. When injected under the skin, Botox relaxes the muscle tissues below the skin and this effect reduces wrinkles and lines of ageing. Thanks to its high cost, it is still out of reach for many middle income groups," he said, adding that studies on animals have shown that the shelf life of Botox can be prolonged. Dr Shome, who heads the Institute of Aesthetics Surgery at Apollo Hospitals here, said in centres where clinicians use only low doses of Botox, the vial, once opened is discarded if they do not get other patients within four hours. Botox is a an expensive drug and the cost of this wasted solution is passed on to the patient. As many as 64 white Swiss Webster mice, aged between two and four weeks, were selected for the study. The rats were divided into eight groups. The reconstituted Botox was securely placed in a battery operated mechanised contraption. The contraption with the vial was placed in the refrigerator. The vial was inverted and straightened 30 times a minute continuously by the apparatus. One group of eight mice were each injected with 1 unit of the agitated Botox on days 1, 3, 5, 7, 14 and 21, 28 and 42, to evaluate its efficacy. The results showed that the effect of Botox can be maintained even up to six weeks, provided it was refrigerated. "Botox therapy is set to become much cheaper as physicians can now use a single vial in multiple patients and therefore, pass on the benefits of the cost-saving to the consumers. I expect Botox prices to become at least 30 per cent cheaper," Dr Shome said.