Recently the FDA sent letters to 350 physicians in the US directing them to cease using Botox and other medications that they ordered from foreign sources. Believe it or not, some doctors in order to save a few bucks are getting products like Botox at lower prices than they could buy here, and using them as they would any other product. This illegal practice puts making money ahead of insuring patient safety. In fact, we wrote an article about “Botox Bandits” in the most recent edition of our practice magazine Your Beauty.
It’s Not Worth It
The most egregious case of placing profits before safety was a Florida physician who injected himself and three other individuals with Botulinum toxin, not Botox, which was supposed to be used only in laboratory research. He and his other patients (victims) all contracted botulism and required prolonged hospitalization for treatment. All were lucky to survive but the doctor lost his license and was sent to jail. All for a few bucks.
The issue with obtaining medications from foreign sources is that one cannot be sure of how the medication has been handled, stored, and shipped. This could cause the medication to be ineffective at best, or contaminated and transfer an illness to the person who receives it. In fact the medication could even be counterfeit. We just don’t know. So the bottom line here is: Buy American!
What you might ask is what Allergan, the company that makes Botox, doing about this? In short, whatever they can to stop this practice. Our fax machine is bombarded on almost a daily basis with offers of cut rate Botox or other injectables from Mexico, China and Canada. Allergan has asked us to forward these offers to them, which we do. Allergan will reportedly cut off the supply to this entity, which will close shop, and open up under another name and continue the practice.
Even more distressing to me is that there are a few ASPS members on the list. We are all responsible for overseeing where we are getting these products from and making sure that they come directly from Allergan in the United States with all the FDA’s supervision, quality assurances and cautions. This sort of sounds like something that would take place in California or Florida, right? Certainly these states had more letters than any other, but letters went out to doctors in 38 states, including Tennessee, including a family practitioner here in Knoxville.
It would be great for me to be able to tell you that this type of practice, cutting corners on patient safety to save a few dollars, will soon be a thing of the past. But, I cannot. In fact, as the financial pressures on physicians increase, more and more physicians may be tempted to do this. However, the majority of ASPS members join me in believing that there is no price on patient safety. This must always come first.
Let’s be careful out there,