Dysport: the new “Botox”
If Allergan’s Botox is Goliath, then Medicis and their new neurotoxin is David. No one can argue that Botox has enjoyed a monopoly in the United States for past 15 years. After all, Botox was a true paradigm shift in cosmetic surgery. Never before, without surgery, could a patient have wrinkles disappear. The introduction of Botox was something so different and so easy that it truly heralded in a new era known as minimally invasive surgery. What began as a “pretty poison” has grown into “cosmetic maintenance” and now women and men get regular Botox injections with the same regularity that they get their hair colored or teeth cleaned. Botox has not only continued to be safe and effective, but has gone on to treat many conditions from headaches to hemorrhoids.
Botox has gone largely unchallenged and Allergan has become a corporate giant due to its sales. Second to Viagra it is the largest selling drug. A brief challenge came in the “at the turn of the last century” with Myoblock, a similar product but chemically different. Unfortunately for Myoblock, it did not live up to the effectiveness of Botox, and its popularity was short lived. It is still used for the few patients that have a resistance to Botox, but is a small player.
Dysport is chemically very similar to Botox and has been used in the United Kingdom for 15 years. It varies from Botox in its biochemistry and protein structure but basically does the exact same thing. This drug has recently received FDA acceptance and will be sold in the United States under the same name. Dysport will make a big bang with the media upon it final FDA acceptance and rumors will fly. The Dysport FDA trials showed that Dysport took effect somewhat faster than Botox and basically lasted the same amount of time, about three months. Why challenge the king of neurotoxins (more politically correctly called neuromodulators) with a drug that basically does the same thing. I call it Coke versus Pepsi marketing. Consumers and surgeons desire choices in everything from clothes, to cars to, carpet and want choices. There is also some bragging rights from being the “new kid on the block” (just ask Red Bull). Cosmetic consumers and media are fascinated by “new” technology and if it is new then it must be better. Frequently this does not pan out, but a well marketed and effective competitor can certainly gain market share. When all the US automakers were getting bailed out by the Federal government, Toyota (who was a newcomer to this country) remained strong.
To cut to the chase, Dysport is exciting because it is new and is also taking on heavyweight Botox. It is likely to become a popular competitor. What remains to be seen, and could make the difference in the wrinkle wars, is how Dysport is priced in comparison with Botox. If Medicis significantly undercuts Allergan, Dysport could potentially displace the king. I doubt that this will happen as corporate America is not fond of less profit. A similar scenario occurred with Restylane, the revolutionary lip and wrinkle filler from Medicis. This was the first new filler that was FDA approved and made a meteoric rise to the top of facial injectables. There was no significant competition for about 4 -5 years until Allergan obtained FDA approval for Juvederm. In the pre release period, much speculation occurred as to whether Allergan would significantly undercut the pricing of Restylane. Guess what? They did not. Their pricing was almost identical and Juvederm no doubt took a chunk out of the filler sales dominated by Allergan. Competition is generally a good thing as it offers the public more choices and can sometimes drive down prices, but don’t look for this with aesthetic companies. They figure if patients will spend $500 for X, then they will spend it for Y. Time will tell.
To find out more about Botox, Dysport and other cosmetic facial surgery procedures, visit www.lovethatface.com.
Joe Niamtu, III DMD
Cosmetic Facial Surgery