‘Black Market’ toxin administered in the UK

The regulation debate continues as The Times unveils an undercover investigation

Botulinum Toxin

Regulation in the aesthetics industry is a hot topic of conversation as the UK only has limited rules and laws in place, but more needs to be done! The lack of regulation means that anyone can book onto a dermal filler course and complete a day’s worth of training and be able to go and inject people the next day! Scary, right?

This month, The Times reported that an undercover investigation found beauticians offering to inject women with ‘black market’ botulinum toxin, putting their patients at risk of serious and potentially disfiguring complications.

The practitioners had no medical qualifications and used social media to target women and girls, suggesting the treatments they were offering were safe and would enhance their looks. Many of the products used had not undergone the safety checks required by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Therefore, the products had likely been bought from websites and were transported into the UK from different countries.

A rise in complications

The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) represents about 400 doctors, nurses and dentists practising aesthetic medicine and is stressing the urgent need for regulation in the UK.

BCAM president Dr Uliana Gout, said, “Botulinum toxin is a prescription-only medicine that should be prescribed by a healthcare professional in a face-to-face consultation with the patient, yet it is being widely administered by practitioners with no medical training who are buying black market supplies.”

“Not only are members of the public at risk from these unregulated products being administered by people with no medical training, there is also an issue that complications may arise as the practitioner is unable to access the necessary prescription-only medicines to quickly put it right,” she comments.

“The BCAM’s Annual Clinical Review, an audit of members’ activity over the previous 12 months, last year highlighted a rise in the number of complications they had treated which originated from non-healthcare professionals. Aesthetic treatments have become increasingly popular over the past couple of years so it’s crucial for the Government to introduce urgent regulation to protect the public,” Dr Gout reiterates.

A call for action!

This has caused outrage in the aesthetic sector, and industry associations are now pushing for a big change. This includes statutory regulation and for all injectable treatments to be performed by qualified healthcare professionals who can prescribe medicines which are not over the counter whilst having the ability to deal with complications should they arise.

The Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) operates a voluntary practitioner register which is accredited by the Government’s Professional Standards Authority. The association believes there should be national, mandatory education and training standards for all practitioners in the industry. It is also calling for a framework of statutory regulation to ensure that practitioners who cannot meet the required standards of safe and effective practice will not be able to practise legally.

Professor David Sines, the chair and registrar of the JCCP, said, “The JCCP receives an average of more than 30 complaints and ‘issues of concern’ each week regarding unsafe practice associated with treatments, medicines and the supply of aesthetic products as well as the training standards and qualifications that many practitioners present with.”

He continues, “As a starting point, I would urge all parliamentarians to support the amendment that the JCCP and others have tabled to the Health and Care Bill. The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament, which would introduce a mandated licensing regime for the more invasive cosmetic treatments whilst making it an offence for someone to practise without a license.”

Do your research!

Remember to always do your research and ensure your practitioner is registered with a regulatory body. You can find out what these are here and what reputable organisations to look out for here.

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