Allergan has confirmed that a US judge has issued a permanent injunction against German group Merz regarding its alternative treatment to the blockbuster Botox.

Specifically, Merz has been ruled to have violated California's Uniform Trade Secrets Act and Judge Andrew Guilford concluded that the units misappropriated important trade secrets belonging to Allergan. These include "the specific identities and financial details" of the latter's relationships with doctors in the USA that are using Botox (onabotulinum toxin type A) for cosmetic (wrinkles) and therapeutic (eg cervical dystonia  and migraine) indications, and the facial filler Juvederm (hyaluronic acid).

Merz began selling its botulinum toxin type A treatment Xeomin for cosmetic use in the USA last November and by December, it had captured an 8% share of the market, according to court filings. The judge also found that Merz misappropriated Allergan's marketing plans, including those to address competition from the German group, saying "the value of this information is incalculable."

The injunction prohibits Merz from "selling or soliciting purchases of their product…in the facial aesthetics market for 10 months". The Californian court noted that "the right of free competition does not include the right to use the confidential work product of others".

In addition to the US ruling, Allergan has also prevailed against Merz this month in two cases in Germany and Spain. The US firm noted that the findings in the latter two countries "are consistent with the Food and Drug Administration's substantial efforts to emphasise the non-interchangeability of Botox and other botulinum toxin type A products".

Allergan chief executive David Pyott said "we believe that full and fair competition is healthy" but "it is important to ensure that physicians and consumers receive accurate and truthful information and are able to make informed decisions".

Botox effective in urinary incontinence

Meantime, a study carried out at Leicester University in the UK has demonstrated that Botox is effective in treating overactive bladder (OAB).

The four-year study, published in the the journal European Urology, involved 240 women with severe detrusor overactivity who had failed to get better after two different drug treatments. Some 122 of the women received a Botox injection, and the rest were on placebo.

Douglas Tincello, lead author of the study, noted that in women treated with Botox, the times of urgency dropped from six a day to less than one. "Most excitingly", he added, "about four in 10 women become completely continent again after six weeks and a third were still continent again six months after treatment". The effects started to wear off after six months or so.

Dr Tincello said the treatment is not without complications as about one in 8 women had some difficulty emptying their bladder at some time in the six months after treatment, due to paralysis of the bladder muscle. This was treated by teaching the women to use disposable catheters.

The Leicester University team is currently looking at how cost-effective Botox could be for OAB. Dr Tincello said that "since the effect of the treatment is so much greater than a six-month course of tablets, Botox may be used much more widely for this bladder condition "and it may turn out be cheaper too".