Surgeon sues Allergan over large Botox vials

Las Vegas appears to be becoming an epicenter of protest against large vials of injectable drugs. A plastic surgeon in that city has sued Allergan ($AGN), saying the drugmaker is marketing Botox in large vials that encourage doctors to use them for multiple patients, the Los Angeles Times reports. This, after ongoing, high-profile litigation over a hepatitis C outbreak there traced to large vials of the anesthetic propofol.

The propofol cases have so far yielded almost $200 million in damage awards against Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA), which manufactured the drug; and Baxter International ($BAX) and McKesson ($MCK), which distributed it. Teva is on the hook for the entire amount--whatever it eventually becomes after appeals--because of an indemnification agreement. Juries have found that the companies were liable, even though it was an endoscopy clinic's reuse of the vials that actually caused the outbreak.

The surgeon's lawsuit is, of course, quite different: Dr. Julio Garcia alleges Allergan sold Botox only in 100-unit vials, even though typical treatments require only about 20 units. Garcia claims Allergan sales reps encouraged doctors to reuse the vials for multiple patients, the LA Times says. In fact, Garcia claims, reps advised doctors to promote a "buddy system," with patients teaming up for Botox treatments from a single vial.

The suit accuses Allergan of false advertising and competition-law violations and asks for monetary damages. It's also seeking class-action certification. A company spokeswoman tells the Times Allergan urges doctors to use Botox vials only once.

- read the Times story