News Extra

Botox party at Johns Hopkins comes under fire

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: (Published 20 July 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:124
  1. Fred Charatan
  1. Florida

    “It's Botox Night at Johns Hopkins,” said the invitation distributed by Hopkins Medicine and sponsored by Dr Patrick Byrne, director of the division of facial, plastic, and reconstructive surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology, Head, and Neck Surgery at Johns Hopkins.

    The event, held on 11 July from 5 pm to 7 pm in the outpatient department, promised that anyone “interested in receiving Botox treatments may do so on the spot! Refreshments will be served and attendance is free.”

    Botox Night resembles Botox parties in health spas or private homes, which sprang up in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration's approval of botulinum toxin for the treatment of “glabellar lines” (otherwise known as the frown lines between the eyebrows). The parties often feature alcoholic beverages and on the spot injections with Botox, at an average cost of $497 (£320; €502) each.

    However, soon after Botox was approved for cosmetic use, the American Academy of Dermatology frowned on Botox parties. In a letter on 29 April to all members, president of the academy, Dr Fred Castrow II, wrote, “Social gatherings of this kind in combination with botulinum toxin treatments are inappropriate and potentially dangerous settings for patients. As such, I strongly discourage you from participating in these kinds of medical/social activities.”

    Public Citizen, a non-profit consumer watchdog based in Washington, DC, sent a letter on 9 July to Dr Edward Miller, dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, urging him to cancel the event. The letter, signed by Dr Sidney Wolfe, Public Citizen's medical director, said, “This event is unseemly, unprofessional, and undermines the core educational mission of the university.” It concluded: “If you ensure that this event is immediately cancelled, it will send a clear message to students that Johns Hopkins emphasises professionalism over commercialism in medicine.”

    But despite the protests the event went ahead. A spokeswoman said the event was a success, with about 40 people attending. However, to her knowledge, they did not plan to repeat it.

    View Abstract

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription