Tuesday, 3 November 2009

The ugly truth about botox

Just had a very interesting meeting with BUAV, which was arranged a while ago but neatly coincided with a piece in the Sunday Times this week on what goes on in a lab where botox is tested on mice. Summary execution with ballpoint pens for starters...

Since the ban on cosmetics testing on animals (introduced by a Labour Government - hurrah!) the ingredients in expensive moisturising creams which claim to erase wrinkles and fine lines or cheap ones for that matter - cannot be tested on animals. But because botox has some useful medical qualities and was originally designed for medical purposes (for example, it's used for patients with Parkinsons and MS, as a muscle relaxant), it not only can be tested on animals. It has to be.

There's a legal requirement for LD50 (Lethal Dose 50) batch testing, i.e. testing to be carried out to such levels that 50% of the animals die, which then establishes what a lethal dose would be.
Apparently licences cannot be granted for tests where death is the intended end result, but it's OK to carry out LD50 testing which results in death so long as you intervene before death occurs and use your trusty ballpoint to put the animal out of its misery. (Got that? Good).

People will be aware that I don't have a totally hardcore attitude towards animal testing. I accept the necessity of testing in certain fields of medical research. But it seems to me that testing batches of botox which are designed purely for cosmetic use, just because the product has other uses, goes against the spirit of the ban. 75,000 mice a year are used in botox testing, which is small scale when put against overall numbers of animal tests, but still seems rather unnecessary.

And I'm not sure how effective or accurate such a test could be; I know the Minogue sisters are small, but even so, I think they might be able to handle slightly more botox than your average mouse.

More on the BUAV "The Ugly Truth" campaign here - http://www.buav.org.uk/

3 comments:

Alex said...

The LD50 value is expressed per mass, ie mass of drug (in this case botox) per kg of test subject. In this way the number is roughly applicable to persons of all sizes...

Kerry said...

Yes I know... it was a joke. (NB Mice aren't people!)

Alex said...

Sorry, was possibly a little hypersensitive... but the role of science and evidence in policymaking is, as you know, a topical issue.