Lies are easy to smooth over

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Botox injections can "dramatically reduce your toughest wrinkle within seven days," according to its advertising campaign.

For those wishing to look a little younger, it sounds like the solution.

Except if you're older than 65.

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And you'll have to get injections every four months to maintain that youthful look.

And it's only approved for the wrinkles on your forehead.

But none of that information is available in the advertisement.

That seems a little misleading. The Food and Drug Administration thought so, too and asked the Allergan Inc., the drug's maker, to pull the ads Sept. 5 in favor of more accurate ones.

So far the company has refused. It says they have worked with the FDA and said the ads are "reminder ads" and not required to include that information, according to at Sept. 9 CBS news story.

Allergan spokeswoman Suki Shattuck told the New York Times the company wants to work toward a solution with the FDA without having to pull the advertisements.

Botox, approved by the FDA in April to smooth out wrinkles in the forehead and between the eyes, smooths wrinkles by interfering with neurotransmitter and relaxing muscles. The injections cost from $450 to $1,000 And are usually given every four months to maintain the wrinkle-free look.

So far the this year, the company that makes Botox has earned $200.8 million, according to CBS, and 40 percent of those sales are for cosmetic use.

Botox has garnered a lot of media attention even before its approval.

It has been used to smooth wrinkles before the FDA approval. Across the country, both women and men have gotten injections to make themselves appear younger.

Some have centered parties around it. Friends gather for refreshments and a couple Botox injections and go on their way for four months.

Botox is being used as casually as the wording in the ad campaigns.

It seems like a silly drug and a silly procedure, used by those overly concerned with their appearance.

So what if the ad fudges a little? When used for cosmetic purposes, it's hardly seems that big of a deal.

It seems hardly any different from a moisturizer claiming to take years off your complexion.

But it's not a cream. It's a medical procedure that can have side effects and costs a great deal.

Allergan needs to be just as responsible with Botox as it is with the drugs it makes for other commercials.

They make the drug, they sell it. They should be the ones to provide the most accurate information about it where people will see it most -- in its advertisements.

Even if the FDA wasn't breathing down its neck.

The advertising industry (believe it or not) has various codes of ethics that they tend to follow. The American Association of Advertising Agencies Creative Code states that advertising "shall tell the truth, and shall reveal significant facts, the omission of which would mislead the public."

Allergan, should by all means, follow this code. Leaving out age limitations, the longevity of the injections and how it can be used misleads the public.

If Allergan were advertising a wrinkle-smoothing cream, the standards would be different.

But it's selling a drug -- a product that has specific limitations. A drug, that if used improperly, could have very negative effects.

Allergan needs to take its role as a drug distributor seriously and pull the advertisements.

Not because the FDA asked them to, but because it is their duty not to mislead those who want to use it.

Cari Quam can be reached at 434-2235 or by e-mail at