Dec 28, 2021 - Health

Botox sales erupt with younger patients

Botox sales
Data: AbbVie/Allergan documents; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

Botox sales have never been higher.

The big picture: The pandemic drastically reduced the number of people getting cosmetic skin treatments. But the rollout of the COVID vaccines and a larger, younger crowd willing to try Botox injections have led to swelling demand in dermatology offices and medical spas.

By the numbers: U.S. sales of Botox — just the cosmetic version that is used to smooth out face wrinkles and not the version that is used to treat conditions like migraines and neck spasms — surpassed $1 billion in the first nine months of 2021, compared with $600 million in the first nine months of 2020.

  • The revenue jump stems from "brand investment and strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," according to financial filings from AbbVie, which bought the company that makes Botox in 2020.
  • China is the second-biggest Botox market after the U.S., driving total international sales to $579 million in the first nine months of this year.

What they're saying: "At this point, we're not seeing [growth] driven by pent-up demand as much as just fundamental demand," Carrie Strom, a senior vice president at AbbVie who oversees the company's cosmetic drugs, said at an investment bank conference this month.

  • Patients getting Botox are now younger on average. "And by younger I mean closer to 40 versus 50," Strom said.
  • Influencers promoting Botox and other cosmetic procedures on TikTok and Instagram and new Botox ads also have attracted and retained more people.

Follow the money: AbbVie charges $622 for a 100-unit vial of cosmetic Botox.

  • Dermatologists and plastic surgeons then charge $15-$20 on average per unit — the forehead, glabella and crow's feet each require a certain number of Botox units — with the average procedure costing $466.
  • The huge demand is driving sales, but AbbVie suggested higher prices are coming because of the ubiquitous brand power and because inflation is giving the company cover: "We command a clear leadership position. And along with that comes premium pricing," Strom said at the conference. "Our customers can also command that premium pricing when they're treating their patients."

What to watch: Whether the Omicron variant leads to more people deferring non-urgent care again.

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