Austin medical practices receive FDA Botox warning

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by QUITA CULPEPPER / KVUE News and Photojournalist JOHN GUSKY

kvue.com

Posted on January 14, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 14 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning doctors across the country about using Botox bought from a foreign supplier.

It sent a letter to hundreds of medical practices warning about what they may have purchased.

At Aesthetica MedSpa, Marilyn Lindgren has been getting Botox for years. As she approaches her 70th birthday, she says it's a pick-me-up she can't do without.

“The Botox is in the crow's feet here,” she said. “Vanity. I just wanted to look the best I can look.”

The thought of having contaminated or fake Botox injected is not a happy one.

“That's frightening to think that you're getting something that could be potentially dangerous, and you're unaware of it,” Lindgren said.

According to the FDA, a Canadian medical supplier, Canada Drugs, has been linked to the sale of fake Botox. Last month, the FDA sent letters to more than 350 American medical practices that may have received orders of the drug that could "cause harm to patients because they may be unsafe and ineffective."

Three Austin facilities were on the list: Tender Laser Care, Dr. Thomas Weil, and Salute Oral Facial Surgery.

All three offices say no patients have reported any problems.

Dr. Weil says he stopped ordering from that company months ago, and no longer offers Botox to patients.

Dr. David Malave sent KVUE a statement, which says in part: "Our office does not use Botox on patients in our office. The Botox that was purchased was for personal use.”

“Some practices throughout the United States have been illegally importing Botox, which may or may not actually be Botox cosmetic,” said Dr. David Sneed, owner of Asethetica MedSpa. “It's possible some people didn't know that it was wrong.”

Dr. Sneed says he buys his Botox supply from the Allergan company, the manufacturer.

“It comes in dry ice in a special containers; it's on dry ice,"  Dr. Sneed said. “It's a frozen powder, and it has to be handled in a very special way.”

He believes medical practices that are buying the cheaper Botox in bulk from foreign or unlicensed suppliers may be trying to save money, but that comes at a cost.

“If you could purchase it for less and sell it for the same you could make a little bit more profit,” Dr. Sneed said. “The liability for the practice, the potential harm to patients, how could it possibly be worth that?”

So how do you know the Botox you're getting is safe? Ask your doctor where they're ordering it from, and the FDA says many of the fake Botox boxes don't have the necessary labeling or medication guide inside the box. Those are required by law.

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