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BCAM Calls For Urgent Action After Undercover Investigation Exposes Huge Public Health Risk

The British College of Aesthetic Medicine (BCAM) is calling for urgent government action following the publication of a Times undercover investigation that exposed non-healthcare professionals injecting unlicensed botulinum toxin products bought on the black market.

The Times yesterday (Thurs 3 Feb) reported on a number of practitioners across the UK with no professional medical qualifications who advertise their services on social media, offering treatments using cut-price products that are not approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

BCAM President Dr Uliana Gout said: “The College strongly feels that this investigation has exposed a practice that we know is going unchecked and is putting members of the public at huge risk. BCAM is profoundly concerned about potentially life-changing injuries from the use of these illegal fake products and the misuse of genuine products by non-healthcare professionals.

“Immediate government action is needed in this virtually unregulated sector to protect the public from serious harm by limiting the use of these products exclusively to regulated healthcare professionals.

“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 which are completely unregulated or receiving them from unscrupulous prescribers.”

BCAM represents around 400 doctors and dentists practising aesthetic medicine. The College believes all injectable treatments should be carried out only by qualified healthcare professionals who can prescribe and have the ability to deal with complications if they arise.

Dr Gout said: “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 if complications arise as the practitioner is unable to access the necessary prescription-only medicine to quickly put it right.

“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 that originated from non-healthcare professionals. Aesthetic treatments such as fillers and botulinum toxin injections 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.”

In 2013 Sir Bruce Keogh published a report into cosmetic interventions that recommended a number of measures including making fillers prescription-only devices, introducing a national register for practitioners and establishing accredited qualifications for non-surgical interventions. None of these measures have been adopted by the government.

The Health and Care Bill currently going through Parliament is expected to introduce new regulatory measures such as a licensing scheme for practitioners, but the extent is unclear.  

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