Allergan, Medicis lobby hard against 'Botax'

While the pharma industry in general is lobbying hard for its cause vis-a-vis healthcare reform, makers of cosmeceuticals are battling on two fronts. The Senate's reform bill includes a 5 percent surtax on various cosmetic procedures, including anti-wrinkle injections such as Botox. And that's a tax Allergan and Medicis Pharmaceutical can't believe in.

The two companies are going all out with lobbying and PR campaigns against the proposal, the Wall Street Journal reports. Allergan launched a website,, to back a grassroots email-your-senator effort. The company is also handing out fliers for doctors to post in their offices and letters physicians can personalize and send to their patients.

The crux of the company's PR effort lies in making the tax seem like a levy on the middle class rather than on the rich. Senators "thought they were taking some money out of the pocketbooks of women who shop on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or Fifth Avenue in New York, but it really is going to hurt soccer moms," Allergan CEO David Pyott told the WSJ. But some D.C. types don't buy it: According to the Journal, at least one consultant questions whether so-called soccer moms really care about the tax.

Medicis also is trying to paint the tax as the thin end of a wedge. If cosmetic procedures are taxed, how long will it be before Congress adds levies to luxury haircuts and hair color?

Ironically, though, analysts don't think the tax would affect Allergan and Medicis that much, because most of their sales come from products that wouldn't be affected by the tax. Also, because doctors would be collecting the actual tax, patients and docs would end up sharing the cost with the product makers, they predict.

- read the WSJ story