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Botox & the Holograms: Allergan’s extreme anti-counterfeiting tactics

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Sadly, counterfeit products are extremely common these days. Regardless of the economy, ambitious/immoral entrepreneurs have made a healthy living off copying popular, expensive name-brand products. As the economy got rougher, counterfeiters were forced to get more aggressive... and creative.

While fake products used to be most commonly seen with clothing, jewelry and accessories (who hasn’t seen the misspelled Louis Vuitton and Chanel bags?), the forgery-fingers have been steadily creeping into the beauty world.

A few months ago our office was notified about the prevalence of counterfeit Obagi and SkinMedica skin-care products. Both companies advised telling patients NOT to buy these products online as it is harder to know which sites are trust-worthy when purchasing products through such an immense, hard-to-control venue as the Internet. (In fact, SkinMedica revealed that they are attempting to police this situation, and are shutting-down numerous online-stores daily that are supplying fake versions of their products.)

Now, Botox is apparently also feeling the sting of too-real-looking-for-comfort’s-sake forgeries.

Our most recent Botox shipment included new notification about the addition of special holograms that are being imprinted on each vial of Botox Cosmetic. These holograms are supposed to make it easier for treatment providers and patients to easily identify which Botox Cosmetic vials are authentic, while simultaneously making it harder for the knock-off king-pins to duplicate the product. (We specifically are NOT including pictures of the new hologram in this article to insure that the wrong eyes don’t have access of what this looks like.)

Aside from the financial distress Allergan might experience through lost sales (money mistakenly going to fake product), the bigger issue is quality control and safety. The millions of patients currently undergoing Botox injections need to feel confident that the injectable treatment they want is actually the injectable treatment they are getting. Far more serious than an authentic Louis Vuitton bag, these faked products aren't just hanging off your arm, these forged products are actually being injected into your blood-stream! If the ingredients aren’t carefully controlled, this is BAD NEWS for the patient, and REALLY BAD NEWS for the industry.

It behooves Botox maker Allergan to make it as difficult as possible to fake their product, as obviously the last thing they would want would be people being afraid of undergoing Botox treatment due to fear of authenticity. Although it would be a boon for Dysport of Xeomin (Botox competitors), Botox big-wigs probably lay awake at night, scared to death that something terrible will happen to a patient undergoing a supposed “Botox” treatment.

In that vein (no pun intended) it won’t be totally surprising when each real Botox vial comes with a diamond inside it, or is hand-delivered by an official Botox Royal Guard. Considering that Botox injections make up a multi-billion dollar industry, Allergan will likely throw everything they possibly can need into their fight against safe-guarding the reputation (and desirability) of Botox Cosmetic injections.

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