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Lab-Strength Toxin, Not Botox, Caused Paralyses

Posted: November 22, 2006

Personal misuse of super-strength botulinum toxin caused a Florida osteopath, his girlfriend, and two of his patients to become paralyzed and hospitalized for months in 2004.

Details of the much-publicized incident—which ended in the practitioner being sentenced to three years in prison—are only now published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

At the time of the incident, Bach McComb was an osteopathic physician who was continuing to practice in Oakland Park, Fla., after his license had been suspended. In the four cases described, McComb did not use a medical version of Allergan Inc.'s Botox.

Instead, he mistakenly gave himself and the three others four to six injections of a preparation of paralyzing botulinum toxin that was 2,800 times stronger than that typically used on patients, according to the authors of the JAMA article. This formulation was only intended for laboratory work.

The vial's labeling clearly marked the product as not being suitable for human use.