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Botox Face Cream? War on Wrinkles Triggers New "Uses" for the Cosmetic Drug

Are you ready for Botox the face cream? What about Botox the underarm antiperspirant? The market for the wrinkle-removing injection began growing again last year, and Allergan (AGN) and Medicis (MRX) have stepped up their entertaining war over the category as a result.

Medicis blew another $10 million on its $94 million pact with Revance to create a wipe-on, wipe-off version of botulinum toxin for treating face wrinkles and excessive sweating, according to the company's 10-K.

Allergan, which sells market leader Botox, isn't sitting still for the challenge. It's researching the drug for use as a painkiller and as an enlarged prostate treatment. It also put up an alarmingly entertaining website that allows you to upload your own photo and see what you would look like after Botox.

Medicis launched Dysport, a competitor to Botox, in 2009 and has liked the results. Sales of Medicis' non-acne skin products were up $41.4 million, or 31 percent, to $482.4 million in 2010. Most of that increase was due to Dysport, judging by prior sales numbers. In October last year, Revance reported that a phase 2b trial of topical Botox was successful. Curiously, the release doesn't contain any information about safety or side effects, despite the obvious concern about the risk of spreading a paralyzing poison around a person's eyes. Cosmetic dermatologists are already licking their lips at the idea that a no-needles version of Botox might open a whole new market of patients who are afraid of being injected.

Sales of Allergan's Botox began recovering last year after declining during the recession. With the market still growing despite the entry of Dysport, Allergan has stepped up its Botox marketing with a "visualizer" tool on its web site in which you can flip through before-and-after pictures of women who have used it, and see animations as they morph from human beings into Stepford Wives. There's even a scroll bar, so you can pick what level of wrinkle-removal you want before hitting go. Best of all, you can upload your own picture and try it on yourself. Here are my results:

Talk about a blank slate! I think I'll stick with the natural look.


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