As fake Botox cases prompt alert in U.S., Canada says no new issues reported

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has alerted clinicians about risks of counterfeit versions of AbbVie’s ABBV.N Botox that were given to consumers for cosmetic purposes in multiple states.

A total of 22 people from 11 U.S. states reported adverse effects after receiving Botox injections from unlicensed or untrained individuals, or in non-healthcare settings such as homes and spas, as of April 18, according to the CDC alert that was issued last week. 

States reporting these reactions include California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York City, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state and local partners are investigating reports of harmful reactions among people who received injections of counterfeit Botox.

Symptom onset dates ranged from Nov. 4, 2023 to March 2024-end. All symptomatic patients were females aged 25 to 59 years.

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How a poisonous toxin became Botox

Eleven patients were hospitalized and none have died, the agency said.

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The FDA had alerted healthcare professionals and consumers over unsafe, fake Botox injections last week. The agency is currently working with manufacturer AbbVie to identify and remove suspected counterfeit Botox products found in the United States.

AbbVie did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

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Health Canada told Global News last week that it has not received any reports of harmful reactions to counterfeit botulinum toxin in the past year.

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Botulinum toxin is the pharmaceutical name for Botox.

“Since January 2022, Health Canada has received three complaints where counterfeit botulinum toxin was confirmed,” said Marie-Pier Burelle, a Health Canada spokesperson.

“Health Canada is committed to informing consumers about the risks of counterfeit products,” she said.

There have also been no recalls of counterfeit botulinum toxin injections in Canada over the past year, Burelle said.

“There are a number of enforcement actions that Health Canada takes to address the risks of counterfeit products such as issuing public advisories, seizing product and preventing the importation of product in partnership with the Canada Border Services Agency.”

— with files from Global News’ Saba Aziz 

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