Even de-fanged botulinum toxin may still be toxic to some people. The FDA says patients taking Botox and its sister med Myobloc have exhibited serious health problems, including muscle paralysis and death. The meds, which are best known for smoothing wrinkles, also are used to combat other muscle-related maladies. The agency says it's reviewing the meds' safety, but it so far hasn't pinned down a causal relationship between the products and the safety problems.
Most of the severe reactions occurred in children treated for limb spasicity associated with cerebral palsy. Strangely, the symptoms resemble botulism, a paralyzing illness caused by botulinum toxin in food.
The FDA's review comes two weeks after Public Citizen, a consumer activist organization, petitioned the agency to warn doctors and patients of serious side effects. The group said it found 180 serious adverse events in FDA records; the agency, however, says it's received fewer than 100 reports.