Sunday, June 28, 2009

Botox math

I thought I'd share some numbers about Botox. First, botulinum toxin is the most toxic naturally-occurring protein known. Lethal dosage for humans is roughly 1 nanogram per kilogram of body weight; by contrast, the lethal dosage for potassium cyanide is roughly 8 million nanograms per kilogram. A therapeutic Unit of Botox is defined as the average lethal dose for a mouse, or roughly 50 picograms (that's trillionths of a gram). A typical dosage is 5U per .1 ml. And a typical procedure may involve 60 Units (25 for frown lines, 20 for crow's feet, and 15 for the forehead). Doctor's cost for a Unit is roughly $10 to $15. Doctors perform roughly 4,600,000 Botox procedures a year. So, math:

Raw botulinum toxin costs $200 billion per gram.

Doctors use a total of almost 1500 gallons of diluted Botox a year. Dissolved in this 1500 gallons is .013 grams of raw botulinum toxin, roughly the mass of half a grain of rice.

This would be a lethal dose for over 160,000 175-pound people.

Did I mention I do math when I'm bored?

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