US sees 'pervasive intrusion' of illicit injectable cosmetics

Botox - when not really needed!A new report shows that illicit injectable cosmetic treatments have spread right across the US over the past nine years and warns that patients may be at risk from counterfeit drug ingredients.

Created by the Physicians Coalition for Injectable Safety and US-based Partnership for Safe Medicines organisation, the 'Black Market Cosmetic Injectables in the US 2005–2013' report highlights the "pervasive intrusion" of fake and misbranded injectable cosmetic treatments into the US drug supply chain.

The authors say that since 2005, there has been one death and 11 other patients who required medical attention for disfigurement or serious illness as the result of receiving fake or misbranded cosmetic injectables while at a doctor's office, clinic, or salon.

This latest report attempts to describe the scope of the problem and finds that there have been 46 individuals in 16 US states who have faced prosecution for their alleged purchase or sale of non-FDA approved cosmetic drugs, with a whole variety of substances being passed off as Allergan's FDA-approved Botox, collagen or other injected cosmetic treatments.

In 2012, the US drugs regulator notified 350 medical practices in 43 of the 50 US states that they may have purchased counterfeit Botox. Since then, more than 700 doctors across all therapeutic areas have received letters warning them that they may have purchased non-FDA approved drugs.

Unlicensed distributors make a profit by selling drugs that are illegally imported, expired, stolen, damaged by bad handling or are outright counterfeits.

Doctors who purchase these discounted drugs generate a profit for themselves by billing insurance, Medicare healthcare insurance claims and patients at the same price they would charge for legitimate treatments.

The report highlights a number of individual cases where a counterfeit has been used instead of the real product.

One focusses on Nohemi Gabriela Gonzalez who was charged with practicing medicine without a license after allegedly injecting as many as 30 victims with toxic silicon liquid rubber that she claimed was a safe cosmetic treatment.

At least one woman was hospitalised after the treatments. Gonzalez’s boss, spa owner Graciela Treviño Leon, was arrested on related charges in November 2013.

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