Botulinum toxin for spasticity: a case for change to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Anupam Datta Gupta and David H Wilson
Med J Aust 2018; 208 (9): . || doi: 10.5694/mja17.00841
Published online: 29 January 2018

Current permissible use of botulinum toxin in Australia does not match newer understandings of human impairment and functioning

The bacterium Clostridium botulinum was first identified in 1895 and, in the 1950s, was first injected into a hyperactive muscle, causing flaccid paralysis by blocking the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from motor nerve endings. However, the therapeutic use of botulinum toxin only became common after 1989, when it was approved for use for strabismus, and then in 2001, when it was synthesised and approved for use as a cosmetic treatment in Canada. In 2017, the idea of paralysing the muscles of the brow and face with a powerful neurotoxin for cosmetic reasons is now widely accepted, or at least conceptually understood, because of frequent reference to the popular procedure in the media.

  • Anupam Datta Gupta
  • David H Wilson

  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, SA



We thank Barbara Brougham for editing earlier versions of this article.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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