A surreal digital collage featuring an array of elements including two distinct eyes and a pair of oversized, gradient blue lips. The background has a textured appearance with gradations of blue, simulating a rough, painted surface. One eye is smaller with a light blue hue, viewed from the side, while the other eye is larger, rendered in grayscale with a naturally colored pupil, and appears to be pierced by a screwdriver. The lips are luscious with a glossy finish, transitioning from light to dark blue. Abstract shapes with black, white, and blue patterns are scattered throughout, with barbed wire running along the bottom and a realistically depicted syringe with a sharp needle pointing upwards, giving a metallic shine. The composition is vibrant yet unsettling, evoking a dreamlike and imaginative atmosphere within the specified color scheme.

This article is absolutely wild. Only a tiny, tiny amount of the toxin from which Botox is developed is required to generate $2.8 billion per year in profits. Because of how dangerous the substance is, and due to fears about bioterrorism, Allergan have essentially got a state-backed monopoly.

Botox is derived from a toxin purified from Clostridium botulinum, a bacterium that thrives and multiplies in faultily canned food (and sometimes prison-made booze). The botulinum toxin is so powerful that a tiny amount can suffocate a person by paralyzing the muscles used for breathing. It’s considered one of the world’s most deadly potential agents of bioterrorism and is on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s select agent list of heavily regulated substances that could “pose a severe threat to public, animal or plant health.” Because of that, Allergan must account to the CDC if even a speck of the toxin goes missing, and when it’s sent to Allergan’s manufacturing facility in Ireland, its travels bring to mind a presidential Secret Service operation—minus literally all of the public attention.

A baby-aspirin-size amount of powdered toxin is enough to make the global supply of Botox for a year. That little bit is derived from a larger primary source, which is locked down somewhere in the continental U.S.—no one who isn’t on a carefully guarded list of government and company officials knows exactly where. Occasionally (the company won’t say how frequently), some of the toxin (the company won’t say how much) is shipped in secrecy to the lab in Irvine for research. Even less frequently, a bit of the toxin is transported by private jet, with guards aboard, to the plant in Ireland.

Source: Bloomberg

Image: DALL-E 3