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/ Source: TODAY contributor
By By Mike Celizic

There’s a new player joining the war on wrinkles, and it’s looking to take on Botox in a run for your money.

Within the next few months, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to approve Reloxin as an injectable treatment for wrinkles. Made from the same neurotoxin as Botox, Reloxin is said to act more quickly and may last longer than Botox, according to a report filed on Thursday for TODAY by Michelle Kosinski of NBC News.

The bottom line for consumers, according to Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor, is that Reloxin will probably be priced lower than Botox.

Battle with Botox
“I think you’re going to see a marketing battle,” Snyderman told TODAY’s Ann Curry in New York. “I think this is going to come in cheaper. Right now, Botox costs $350 to $500. Watch for a price war. It’s going to be a price war for women who want this stuff.”

Botox has been used in medical applications to treat muscle spasms and other conditions for nearly three decades, Snyderman said. In 2002, it was approved by the FDA for cosmetic use. It is made from botulinum toxin, the same bacteria that cause botulism food poisoning.

Reloxin, which has been marketed for several years in Europe and South America under the brand name Dysport, is made from the same neurotoxin as Botox. It was originally developed to treat muscular disorders. The difference, according to Kosinski’s report, is that Reloxin will act in one to two days instead of the three to five days Botox needs to kick in. Clinical trials suggest injections may be effective for up to five or six months, as opposed to about three months for Botox.

“They work the same way. They paralyze the muscle,” Snyderman said. In cosmetic use, the substance is used to immobilize the muscles that cause facial wrinkles.

Reloxin, she said, “is a new take on it. It is the first kid on the block to give Botox some real competition.”

She said the main difference between Botox and Reloxin is that Reloxin “will start earlier. I think there’s still some controversy as to how long it will last. Some people say it lasts about three months, and then you have to go back to the doctor. Other people say that once you start using it regularly, you may get up to six months.

“So, if Reloxin really lasts longer than Botox — that I have to wait to see. But, no doubt, it starts acting sooner.”

Recession-proof?The new competitor to Botox arrives at a time when cosmetic surgeons are seeing a downturn in big-ticket surgeries like breast enhancement, nose jobs and face-lifts, but little reduction in the demand for rejuvenating procedures like Botox injections, dermal fillers and chemical skin peels.

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported that with the economy in recession, people see maintaining a youthful appearance as being vital in keeping existing jobs or looking for new ones. In 2007, Allergan reported Botox sales of $1.2 billion, but said that demand for the drug was “subdued” late last year.

Allergan has responded to the coming hype for Reloxin by emphasizing its established track record. “Physicians should not assume that they can use another product such as Reloxin and get the same precise and predictable results, with the same safety profile, as they do with Botox,” Allergan said in a statement released to NBC News.

The consumer’s biggest fear about any wrinkle-erasing injections is that their face will be permanently paralyzed into a mask, or suffer other disfigurement. But Snyderman said such fears are unfounded.

“The most important thing to remember is it’s temporary,” Snyderman told Curry. “It will wear off; it doesn’t paralyze anything forever, and, boy, is this stuff safe. It really has been run through the wringer. It’s been around for 25 years.”