Which? uncovers illegal Botox adWe catch ex-nurse advertising on eBay

22 November 2007

Woman's face being injected

People are increasingly choosing to give nature a helping hand

Which? has uncovered an ex-nurse illegally advertising Botox parties on eBay, raising fears that cowboy cosmetic practices are thriving.

Our investigation confirms suspicions that unqualified people can get hold of and inject the prescription-only drug.

We phoned the ex-nurse, posing as a potential customer looking to set up a Botox party.

As a prescription-only medicine, Botox can be prescribed only by a health professional with prescribing rights – and that must be for a specific patient – although a nurse or therapist can administer the drug under the direction of the prescriber.

Botox parties

The woman, named Lisa, told us that she was an ex-nurse who had trained in London’s Harley Street.

When asked whether a doctor would accompany her, she said: ‘No, he prescribes me Botox and I bring it in my freezer bag.’

Lisa claimed: ‘It’s better to have Botox by an ex-nurse who’s a beautician than by some doctor who normally deals with bunions.’

She did tell us that drinking alcohol before treatment increases the chances of bruising but said one glass would be fine and then admitted that she had injected drunken party-goers.

Side effects

We were told that the side effects for Botox were ‘none whatsoever... except for drooping’, but bleeding, bruising and infections, as with any injections, are risks.

We showed the transcript of our conversation to cosmetic dermatologist Dr Tamara Griffiths.

She said: ‘I was shocked by this. Botox parties are inappropriate situations in which to administer this drug. That she’s injected intoxicated people raises questions about whether they gave informed consent.’

We will look into this as a matter of urgency

SpokespersonMHRA

We alerted the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It said: ‘The MHRA thanks Which? for passing on information relating to the illegal advertising of Botox. We will look into this as a matter of urgency.

‘Promotion of Botox to the public is strictly prohibited. If it’s used for cosmetic purposes, the prescribing doctor accepts responsibility for safety, quality and efficacy.’

Cosmetic treatments

The government this year backed away from introducing legislation to clamp down on cosmetic treatments such as fillers and Botox, opting for self-regulation instead.

This prompted fears that cowboy practices will increase. And as this issue went to press, the government was set to consult on plans to deregulate the use of cosmetic lasers in favour of letting the industry police itself.

Which? health campaigner Jenny Driscoll said: ‘There’s an increasingly casual approach to non-surgical treatments, like Botox parties.

‘Tougher, not weaker, regulation is needed. And we question whether the industry, left to itself, will really be able or willing to provide the sort of protection that consumers really need.’