Alan Scott, doctor credited with developing Botox for medicine, dies at 89: NPR


Alan B. Scott pictured with his wife Ruth in 1960. Scott is credited with developing Botox for medical treatment.

Anne Scott


hide caption

toggle legend

Anne Scott


Alan B. Scott pictured with his wife Ruth in 1960. Scott is credited with developing Botox for medical treatment.

Anne Scott

Alan Brown Scott, the ophthalmologist who developed the drug Botox for medical use, died Thursday at the age of 89, his family confirmed to NPR.

Scott, from Berkeley, Calif., Had been suffering from an acute illness for 10 days and was in the intensive care unit, his daughter Ann Scott said.

“He really loved his job and he was a great father too,” said Ann Scott, saying her father often involved his children in his research and work.

Botox, which is derived from what is known as one of the deadliest toxins, was not initially discovered for medical purposes. It was actually first developed by Ed Schantz, who worked in the military’s biological weapons program. Schantz was the one who first send the toxin to Scott, who wanted to use it medicinally.

Scott was looking for a way to help his patients with eye disorders so that they didn’t have to have extensive surgeries and believed the chemical could help. Specifically, it aimed to treat people with strabismus, or crossed eyes, and blepharospasm, which is an uncontrollable closure of the eyes. Today, it is also used as a treatment for migraines, hair loss, and drooling.

What Botox is now best known for – smoothing out wrinkles for cosmetic purposes – was not on its agenda.

“I think it’s a charming and slightly frivolous use,” Scott said. SF gate in 2002 on celebrity use of Botox. “But that is not in the sense of what I have done, applications for serious disorders.”

In 1991, Scott sold the drug to the Allergan Company; it was called Oculinum, but the following year the name of the drug was officially changed to Botox. In 2020, 4.4 million cosmetic Botox procedures have been performed in the United States

In the same interview with SF gate, Scott reflected about its discovery and how popular the drug is now.

“Life is a mystery. It’s dazzling, all the things that happen,” he said.

His daughter Ann said that outside of his medical work he enjoyed “anything that was intellectually stimulating”.

“He was a very calm, rather reserved person,” Scott said of his father. “Growing up he studied classics, really liked puns.”

Scott says his father was committed to teaching his students, many of whom were international students.

“It was what he really liked,” she said.