Botox developer rues missing out on billions
Published : Feb 14, 2012 - 11:56
Updated : Feb 14, 2012 - 11:56

Botox developer Alan Scott says he rues the day he handed over rights to the best-selling wrinkle-smoothing drug to a US company for just $4.5 million, saying he might have become a billionaire.

Dr Richard Ellenbogen injects botox into smile wrinkles on the bridge of Perla Pacheco's nose at Beverly Hills Body Cosmetic Surgery Specialists in Los Angeles (Bloomberg)

Botox has become a front-line weapon in cosmetic medicine for erasing wrinkles -- while therapeutic applications of the drug are being used to help a wide variety of disorders from swallowing problems to muscle spasms.

"If I knew (how big it would become), I would have never given it to the drug company Allergan in 1991," Dr Alan Scott told the Times of India in an interview published on Monday.

"At present Botox is being used for over 100 disorders besides aesthetic applications," Scott said in New Delhi where he was en route to a conference in southern India.

The San Francisco opthalmologist said he got around $4.5 million for handing over the rights to the drug to the California-based company Allergan which "was then a satisfactory deal."

"But if I had held on to Botox, maybe I could have made a billion dollars a year now," Scott said.

Botox, which makes muscles relax, is a purified form of a nerve poison produced by a bacteria that causes a disease that paralyses muscles and can be fatal.

Botox was first approved in 1989 to treat two eye muscle disorders -- uncontrollable blinking and misaligned eyes.

"Initially when I developed it, I knew it could do wonders for neurological disorders. However, I had absolutely no idea it could work so well as a cosmetic agent," said Scott, who initially called the drug Oculinum.

The big cosmetic breakthrough came when Canadian ophthalmologist Dr. Jean Carruthers noticed her patients were starting to lose their frown lines and published a study in 1992.

A decade later Botox was approved as a frown fixer by the US Food and Drug Administration and now it is used in 80 countries.

Does Scott worry about any side-effects from the widespread use of Botox?

"It is not clear what will happen after decades of use. Maybe the facial muscles will weaken and sag. But we know that it works in reducing facial wrinkles," he said.

"Most women don't care what will happen years later. They just want the wrinkles to disappear now." (AFP)


<한글 기사>

보톡스 개발자, 억만장자 기회 놓치고 후회 

보톡스 개발자 알랜 스코트는 유망 상품인 '주름펴는 약 '에 대한 권리를 미국 회사에 450만달러를 받고 넘긴데 대해 억만장자가 될 기회를 놓친 것이라면서 후회하고 있다.

그는 13일(현지시간) '인디아 타임스'와 인터뷰에서 "보톡스가 이렇게 큰  상품 이 될 줄 알았다면 절대로 1991년에 앨러간사에 권리를 내주지 않았을 것"이라고 한 탄했다. 앨러간은 미국 샌프란시스코에 본사를 두고 있는 제약사다.

스코트는 샌프란시스코의 한 안과의사가 "보톡스를 450만달러를 받고 넘긴 것은 괜찮은 거래였다"고 한 주장에 "만약 내가 보톡스에 대한 권리를 갖고 있었더라면 1 년에 10억달러는 벌 수 있을 것"이라고 맞섰다.

그는 하지만 "처음 그걸 개발했을 때는 신경계통 이상에 쓰일 수 있을 것으로 생각했지만 미모를 가꾸는 쪽으로 쓰일 것으로는 생각하지는 못했다"고 털어놨다.

보톡스가 화장품으로 큰 돌파구를 연 것은 캐나다인 안과의사 진 카러더스 덕이 다. 그는 자신의 부모가 이를 사용한 뒤 눈살찌푸림이 줄기 시작했다는 사실을 1992 년 논문에 밝히면서부터 각광받기 시작했기 때문이다.

보톡스는 그 후 10여년이 지나 미국 식품의약품안전청(FDA)으로부터 눈살찌푸림 을 잡아주는 효능을 인정받았으며 현재는 80개국에서 사용되고 있다.