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Cosmetic claims lawyer disappointed at lack of greater scrutiny of products including Botox jabs

Plastic surgeons warn that patient safety coudl be compromised by failure to re-classify dermal fillers

Botox treatments remain largely  unregulated threatening patient safety

17 February 2014

Cosmetic claims lawyer Michelle Victor has expressed disappointment that the Government’s response to last year’s review of cosmetic interventions will fail to protect patients from the potential harm caused by Botox® injections, dermal fillers and plastic surgery.

Michelle said, “The less stringent regulation of the cosmetic treatment industry leaves patients at risk from some products which are not covered by the strict rules that apply to other medical devices and pharmaceutical products”.

Last year the Department of Health produced a report, Review of the Regulation of Cosmetic Interventions following the PIP breast implant scandal which was led by the medical director of the NHS in England, Sir Bruce Keogh.

The cosmetic intervention industry was worth £2.3 billion in the UK in 2010, and is predicted to rise to £3.6 billion in 2015.  As the popularity of non-surgical cosmetic treatments continues to grow the group who produced the report said that it was surprised to discover that non-surgical interventions are almost entirely unregulated.

The report said:

“In fact, a person having a non-surgical cosmetic intervention has no more protection and redress than someone buying a ballpoint pen or a toothbrush.”

Some people have reported serious and irreversible health problems following the use of such products as dermal fillers, Botox® or laser or intense pulsed light (IPL). These treatments account for nine out of ten procedures.

The report had particular concerns about dermal fillers which can be administered by anyone who can set themselves up as a practitioner without the need for training or previous experience. There are few control checks in place to monitor the quality of these widely used products.

Dermal fillers have left some people with gangrene, bruising and swelling and sight loss.

The report further said “It is our view that dermal fillers are a crisis waiting to happen.”

The report made a number of recommendations, and the Government has already announced that all breast implant operations should be recorded on a new register.

The 2013 recommended the classification of dermal fillers as prescription-only; a requirement for formal qualifications for practitioners who inject fillers or Botox®; the creation of a register of anyone who carries out surgical or non-surgical cosmetic treatments; a ban on some types of advertising for cosmetic interventions; a requirement for a formal certificate of competence for cosmetic surgeons; the requirement that procedures be approved by a surgeon and not a salesperson; a requirement for compulsory insurance  and the creation of a pooled fund to help patients when companies go out of business.

Despite the Government stating that it agreed with the majority of the recommendations set out in the report cosmetic surgeons say the response pays ‘only lip service’ to patient safety.

Dermal fillers have not been classified as prescription-only, a decision labelled a ‘missed opportunity’ by surgeons.

Rajiv Grover, a consultant plastic surgeon and president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons said before the response was published,  "the important issue here is that fillers must be classified as prescription-only…It would regulate the sale and the quality of fillers, who is allowed to administer them and would ban them from being advertised.”

After the Government's response was published he said, "Frankly, we are no less than appalled at the lack of action taken.

The Government has confirmed that work has started on a number of the recommendations.

In particular:

  • the Royal College of Surgeons has set up an inter-specialty committee to ensure standards for cosmetic surgery and will work with the General Medical Council on a code of ethical conduct
  • Health Education England is leading a review of training for providers of some non-surgical procedures, such as botulinum toxin (commonly known as ‘Botox’®) and dermal filler injections
  • creating a breast implant registry to reassure women that if problems arise they can be contacted, kept informed and called in for treatment if necessary

Michelle said:

“We are disappointed that despite the Government supporting the principle that dermal fillers should be prescription-only, and that there should be control over who administers them they have failed to introduce regulations that would put this in place.

“Many people have suffered permanent injury after being treated with cosmetic products and we hope that the effective regulation of the industry will proceed as quickly as possible.”

Cosmetic injury claims lawyers

Leigh Day is currently representing a group of people who say that they have suffered health problems and injury following the use of certain cosmetic products.  If you would like to speak to a member of the team please contact Michelle Victor on 020 7650 1141 for compensation advice.


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