Group criticizes Hopkins for planning `Botox Night'

Wrinkle treatment talk called `unprofessional'

July 10, 2002|By Johnathon E. Briggs | Johnathon E. Briggs,SUN STAFF

A scheduled "Botox Night" at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center, at which attendees learn how a purified strain of botulism can combat wrinkles, has drawn criticism from a consumer advocacy group that says the event is an example of "crass commercialism" and undermines the educational mission of the university.

Comparing the event to Botox parties, which gained popularity after the Food and Drug Administration approved botulinum toxin to treat frown lines in April, the Washington-based Public Citizen Health Research Group urged the medical center to cancel the event, scheduled to take place tomorrow night at Johns Hopkins Outpatient Center. The group called the event "unseemly" and "unprofessional."

But Gary Stephenson, a spokesman for Johns Hopkins, defended the event, describing it as an "informational seminar" that falls in line with other seminar topics -- from high blood pressure to glaucoma -- that the medical center has sponsored. He said the event is geared only for Hopkins staff and employees who are interested in the procedure, is not sponsored by the manufacturers of Botox and will have physicians on hand to discuss the chemical and demonstrate its use.

"We have informational seminars all the time, as do many other hospitals all over country," Stephenson said. "It's a routine situation. It's not a [Botox] party." The event will not be canceled, he added.

A description of the free event, titled "It's Botox Night at Hopkins," was sent last week to all faculty, staff and students with a Hopkins e-mail account. "Any [sic] interested in receiving Botox treatments may do so on the spot! Refreshments will be served and attendance is free," the e-mail said.

Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group, said the event is clearly designed to "drum up business" for Hopkins and is "shameful" for a world-renowned institution.

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