This month’s biggest story in the med spa industry is the FDA’s approval of Daxxify. Is this the best thing since Botox or is it just another fall fad? The Lengea team cuts through the hype and tells you what it really means for your practice.

What is Daxxify?

The New York Times pronounced it, “The first major advance in facial injections in decades.” Dr. Balaji Prasad, a specialty pharmaceuticals analyst at Barclays Bank, calls it “The most significant advance in the $3 billion field of facial injection drugs since Botox.”

Daxxify is the brand name for an injectable freeze-dried powder generically called daxibotulinumtoxinA-lanm, developed by Revance Therapeutics. Using a peptide-based technology, the drug is used to relax muscles to minimize the appearance of worry lines and wrinkles. This means that Daxxify’s unique formula is free from both human blood protein (serum albumin) and animal-based ingredients.

Currently, Botox controls around 70% of the facial injections market, with competitors like Dysport, Xeomin, and Jeuveau carving up the remainder. While the results from these traditional neurotoxins typically last only 3 months, improvements from Daxxify can last an average of 6 months and, in some cases, all the way up to 9 month. This means that Daxxify is now the only long-acting neuromodulator in the market.

As with all drugs, there are risks of adverse reactions. In some cases, test users of Daxxify were noted to experience difficulty with breathing, headaches, and facial muscle issues.

The Road to Approval

The aesthetics market operates within a specialized niche between cosmetics and medicine. As such, the drugs used in this industry undergo the same rigorous testing as any pharmaceutical. Data used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was based on three phases of trials on more than 2,700 patients and approximately 4,200 treatments. Results were seen as early as one day after treatment with 98% of subjects achieving noticeable, lasting results by the fourth week after treatment. Adverse effects were seen at rates of 6% for headaches and 2% for eyelid drooping or facial weakness.

To approve a drug for public sale and use, the FDA does not conduct actual trials but instead reviews the company’s submitted scientific data. Because it is improving on existing therapies, a product like Daxxify receives a “Standard Review” which usually takes ten months. However, instead of an expected approval date in November 2020, the process took an additional two years because pandemic-related disruptions affected the inspection of the production facility.

Daxxify is Revance’s first product to be cleared by the FDA, causing its shares to grow by 12% and earn it a spot in the $3.2 billion U.S. facial injectables market.

How Daxxify May Affect Your Practice

The option to offer Daxxify treatments to your patients will be a crucial business decision, as well as a medical and personal one. Although the opportunity to have longer-lasting results from one treatment is enticing, medical professionals are advising that Daxxify should not be prescribed immediately to new patients, especially those who have never gotten a neurotoxin treatment before. Due to the novelty of the treatment, it is impossible to know all the potential reactions and sensitivities patients may have. Newer patients should be advised to try products that are more established and to see the effects of those treatments first.

Daxxify may be a good option for patients who have been getting Botox treatments at your practice for a while and for whom you have detailed records of the dosages used and injection placements. While a treatment like Botox has a shorter duration, can be quite useful because side effects can be resolved more quickly, Daxxify carries the risk of causing longer-term side effects for the small percentage who react poorly. Additionally, it will not be any cheaper than Botox, even though it includes fewer appointments and injections. Revance has not yet named a price for the drug, but it has hinted that the price will be higher than that of the competition due to the drug’s longevity.

It is always risky to be a forerunner of a new product, and it is a good idea to stay as up to date as possible on new technologies in order to stay current in the medical spa industry. However, if your med spa does not stay up to date with the latest treatments and technologies, it runs the risk of becoming outdated. A good policy is to first carefully unroll a new pharmaceutical to your most open-minded patients. Your patients trust you to educate and advise them about the risks and advantages of any new treatment, and ultimately, the determination to use Daxxify on a patient will have to be made by the supervising medical director.

There’s no need to worry that Daxxify will cause a reduction in business because it requires fewer appointments. Daxxify’s cost may be prohibitive to some clients, and may not be a good medical fit for others. Botox is still the tried and true option for interested clients and the one with more brand recognition. So, most risk-averse clients will still be choosing Botox for years to come. Additionally, even for patients who respond well to Daxxify, your med spa still offers a wide range of other services that are of interest to clients who will no longer need frequent treatment for fine lines. With the right business marketing and customer loyalty cultivation, your spa can remain a frequently visited destination.

In a Nutshell

Daxxify could be an exciting addition to the industry that you can soon offer on your med spa menu. For now, it is important to make sure your medical staff keeps up to date on the latest scientific developments and to strengthen your connections with your vendors. You want to be a med spa that can procure this treatment in a fast and cost-effective way for your clients, while still keeping safety and best business practice as top priorities. Daxxify might not overtake Botox’s market dominance anytime soon, but as the longest-acting facial injection treatment currently available, it certainly has the potential to disrupt the industry.