Raw botulinum toxin, a key ingredient in Botox, is one of the world's deadliest materials and with the proliferation of a Botox black market, officials are worried the toxin might fall into the wrong hands, the Washington Post reports.
Each vial of Botox, the serum commonly used to treat migraines, facial tics and wrinkles, contains a tiny amount of the raw toxin--certainly not enough to cause harm. In fact, "the amount of poison in a prescribed dose is so small that a determined terrorist would have to obtain hundreds of vials at $400 each to kill even a single person," explains the Washington Post. But when the raw toxin is undiluted, just a tiny drop can kill a 150-pound adult and it's so lethal that it has been banned in the United States, the then-USSR and Iraq.
Al-Qaeda has reportedly looked to purchase raw botulinum toxin in the past to contaminate food and water supplies.
A study by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies showed that a biologist with $2,000-worth of equipment could produce a gram of the toxin, which would be enough to kill thousands of people.
"But you don't even have to make it [yourself]," physician and biodefense expert Kenneth Coleman told the Washington Post. "You can buy it from existing manufacturers. And you can buy it in sufficient quantity to cause widespread harm."
Who would sell the toxin to terrorists? Right now, a major problem for investigators is tracking where the black market Botox is made and where the raw toxin is coming from. Most of the websites that sell discount Botox are attached to fake addresses and the toxin could be created in a small-sized lab.