Our practice receives at least one unsolicited fax a week offering cheap Botox® and fillers. The companies often describe themselves as “outlet” or “online” sources. And they all have one thing in common: their products are imported from outside the country.
Neurotoxins such as Botox® Cosmetic and Xeomin®, and soft tissue fillers such as Juvederm® and Restylane® are a high profit industry. There is significant competition among practitioners for patients, and offering a lower price will usually bring in more patients. But the cost of the product itself limits just how low a physician can drop the price and still be profitable.
Medications cost more in the U.S. than in other countries- up to twice as much. There are a couple reasons for this. In countries with a public healthcare system, such as Canada and the U.K., the government determines how much it will reimburse for a medication. Private insurance companies just don’t have this type of bargaining power. Another reason is advertising- companies in the U.S. market directly to the consumer, and we pay the cost for this additional marketing.
Foreign companies capitalize on this problem by offering neurotoxins and fillers at huge discounts. This is not only illegal, however, it is also dangerous. According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy:
Many websites selling prescription drugs are unlicensed, operating illegally, or operating from foreign countries where medicines shipped to the United States are unregulated. Thus, there is no way of knowing whether the medicine you receive is contaminated, sub-potent, super-potent, expired, or counterfeit, or whether it has been stored and shipped under proper conditions to maintain its effectiveness. And that Canadian online pharmacy with the cheaper prices? It may be calling itself a “Canadian pharmacy,” but it may actually obtain its medications from countries in Asia, South America, or Eastern Europe, where quality standards are more lax and counterfeit medications more widespread.
The FDA has sent warnings to as many as 350 medical practices to warn them they may have purchased counterfeit Botox, so this practice is relatively widespread. If you are considering treatment with neurotoxins or fillers, I strongly recommend asking your practitioner where he or she purchase medications. The answer should be: directly from the company, within the United States.
What has the biggest impact on your decision making when it comes to cosmetic procedures- is safety most important to you, or are you always looking for the lowest price?