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Allergan's India plans far from cosmetics

Botox has been almost synonymous worldwide with banishing wrinkles. But Botox-maker Allergan's plans for India are far from cosmetics.

India is "critical" to Allergan's plans of making Botox a $2-billion product in few years, points out Tom Albright, Allergan's Vice-President (Global Marketing). Botox clocked revenues of $831 million in 2005, he told Business Line.

Cosmetic applications
Although there are about 20 unique indications where Botox is used, besides its benefits across therapeutic areas, Botox's cosmetic application had caught popular fancy, he admitted. About 45 per cent of Botox's global sales come from cosmetic applications.
Botox is the most popular non-surgical cosmetic procedure in the US and over 3.3 million people took Botox for cosmetic reasons in 2005.

To advertise in India
Optimistic about its prospects in India, Allergan is set to advertise the use of Botox to increase the awareness on the product locally, he said. Botox can be advertised because of its cosmetic application, he clarified and added that the ad-spend would be "significant". Unwilling to divulge financials, Albright said that Botox was among the 20 top pharma products advertised in the United States.

Allergan is at present evaluating the opportunity in India to increase its clinical research, he said. Botox is not on the radar for clinical trials in new applications, he said. However, he indicated that clinical trials on alternate indications of Botox in India "could be an option" at a later date. Trials are currently being done in other markets in segments such as headache and other urological conditions, for instance, he said.

About 250 doctors are trained in using Botox and the estimated cost of Botox treatment in one indication is about Rs 8,000, he said. In the US, it could be about $450.

In India, Allergan has clocked revenues of an estimated Rs 100 crore. It has also got regulatory approval from the Drug Controller-General of India for Botox in applications such as Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), Glabellar lines (frown lines) and Hyperkinetic facial lines (facial lines).

What is Botox
Botox is the trade name of Botulinum Toxin Type A, manufactured and marketed by Allergan Inc. It works as a neuro-muscular injection and is used for cosmetic purposes such as erasing wrinkles or crow's feet, where skin wrinkles-up near the eyes. It is also used in conditions like cerebral palsy, where it relaxes the injected muscle and reduces/eliminates muscle spasms thus relieving spasticity. Allergan received US regulatory approvals in 1989 and has been marketing internationally since.