SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Korea Bizwire) – Corporate feud over the source of a toxin strain used in Botox injections has raised safety concerns among consumers, who lay the blame on the state drug safety agency for standing akimbo even when the controversy is growing.
Officials at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety reaffirmed Tuesday that the safety and effects of Botox products allowed in the country have been verified, dismissing accusations between companies that have been arguing over the source of the botulinum toxin that rivals have obtained. The officials stepped back somewhat, however, saying the ministry will look into the issue.
“Since the controversy is growing, we plan to arrange a consultative session among government agencies,” an official said.
The feud is mainly between Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. and Medytox, with the latter claiming that Daewoong stole its source of the strain. Medytox was the first in South Korea to start marketing Botox.
Local law prohibits sales of medical products that have violated patent rights, but the law does not apply to Botox since toxins are not subject to patents. The ministry, which issues approval for Botox products, is being criticized for not going through the full verification procedures to confirm the source of the toxic strain.
Consumers, becoming suspicious of the safety of Botox sold by domestic companies from the feud, have begun to ask for products from foreign companies, drug industry officials said, hurting the country’s leading position in the market that commercializes the specific strain for cosmetic use. Three of the seven Botox makers are in South Korea.
Industry officials see the feud not as a matter related to safety, but more of a competition by companies to grab a bigger market. Discussions by health authorities, they say, should be about ethical conduct.
“I don’t see this as a safety issue,” a head doctor at a plastic surgery clinic in southern Seoul said. “Rather, the authorities should look to see if there were any illegal activities. If there were, then they should be punished.”