Q and A: Can My Killer Use Botox To Kill?

06 Nov

Q: I have been reading Forensics and Fiction and have decided my killer’s weapon will be injections of botox. Would a full syringe of botox given as a muscle injection be enough to kill a grown man (or woman) in 2 minutes or less? Could a smaller amount be used to get the same result? How would a non-medical person be able to get access to enough botox to kill several people?

JM – Memphis, TN


A: The botulinum toxin is one of the most lethal substances known. Very small amounts can kill. The LD50 is about 50 nanograms—a nanogram is one billionth of a gram and there are 30 grams in an ounce. LD 50 means Lethal Dose 50%—the dose that will kill 50% of those exposed to it. Here the 50 billionths of a gram needed to kill most people is a very small amount.


Botox is a very diluted solution of botulinum toxin. How much solution must be injected depends on the actual concentration of the toxin in that particular solution and this varies greatly. For fiction, I wouldn’t worry about the math. Simply have the victim injected and have him die. The reader will assume that whatever the dose was it was enough.

Botox is not all that difficult to come by. It can be purchased from a pharmaceutical supply house, stolen from a pharmacy or a doctor’s office, purchased on the black market, or easily gotten in Mexico. They even have Botox parties at people’s homes where a doc will show up and inject everyone while they drink wine and chat. It’s so LA. Someone could simply steal a bottle when he wasn’t looking.



Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Poisons & Drugs, Q&A


13 responses to “Q and A: Can My Killer Use Botox To Kill?

  1. scsauthor

    November 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Ha! That’s what I’m using in the 4th Dani O’Rourke mystery! (Not the party, tho.) Thanks for the information, as usual, Doug! – Susan Shea


  2. Pat Marinelli

    November 7, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Are we going to have a rash of Botox killings? Great info, Doug.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 7, 2012 at 7:48 am

      Hopefully not but bad guys do bad things so you just never know.


  3. lyndafitz

    November 7, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Great post! I had no idea botox was that lethal. No more injections for me. (Just kidding.)

    I’m going to find a way to use this. Especially the theft from the party idea. It’s deliciously diabolical. Now I just have to create a victim. Middle-aged vain woman who’s already getting the injections. Her family hates her. Hmmm…

    Thanks, Doug!


  4. Sally Carpenter

    November 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I was going to use this idea for a future book–looks like it’s the new murder weapon of choice! I take Botox injections for medical reasons (eye spasms) and it’s scary to think that something so useful can also be so deadly.


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 7, 2012 at 9:42 am

      It’s safe if used properly—but of course we crime writers never do anything properly.


  5. Le French Book

    November 7, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    Love your post, Doug! There I was, thinking an expressionless face was already fairly deadly.


  6. Misty Dietz

    November 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    Does it matter where it’s injected?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      November 7, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Not really. Anywhere and it still gets into the bloodstream and travels thru the body.


      • Misty Dietz

        November 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

        Thank you! BTW, love your book Forensics and Fiction. 🙂


      • D.P. Lyle, MD

        November 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm

        Hope it helps and inspires a few story ideas.


  7. savoursuppslumber

    October 9, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    What organic poison can kill over 30 minutes (victim suffocating) and then with an autopsy months later fail to be detected? It is believed that organic poisons are in any case broken down and traceless within 2 weeks.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: