A Harley Street doctor has been banned from practicing as a medical professional for a year after he charged nurses £400 a day for illegal courses on how to administer botulinum toxin injections without prescriptions.
Dr Mark Harrison, 51, from Kensington, London, is thought to have made £1m from the scam which took place at his clinic, Harley Aesthetics.
The doctor, who provided remote prescribing services over the phone for the cosmetic use of botulinum toxin, boasted in a company newsletter that he had carried out 50,000 remote prescriptions, and suggested that he had made £1.5million from phone calls alone.
During his training course Harrison also encouraged nurses to obtain botulinum toxin from prescriptions made in the names of friends and family so that they could build up a stock of the injectable for on-the-spot treatments. He also told nurses not to be concerned with patients’ medical history before administering the treatment.
Whilst he admitted to nurses that the practice was ‘naughty’, he also said that regulations surrounding the procedure were so lax they would be unlikely to get caught.
Doctor Caught Out by BBC Investigation
The doctor was exposed by an undercover BBC investigation in which a journalist posed as a trainee nurse to film him secretly.
The investigation, which was shown on BBC London Evening News in the summer of 2012, caught him telling nurses:
“Strictly speaking, a vial with a patient name on it should only be used on that patient. We use it on a number of people. Is it ever an issue? No. It is not legal but it’s what everybody does, doctors, professors, me. Just order a vial in your name – it’s not policed at all.”
Following this investigation, on the 23rd of July 2012, the General Medical Council (GMC) banned doctors from prescribing botulinum toxin injections by phone, email, video-link and fax.
Doctors must now have face-to-face consultations with patients before prescribing these products to ensure they fully understand their medical history.
Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the GMC, said at the time:
“These are not trivial interventions and there are good reasons why products such as Botox [sic] are prescription only.”
Face-to-face appointments with doctors give patients an appropriate opportunity to discuss their care with clinicians directly. Botulinum toxin injections should only ever be administered after being prescribed by a doctor, and only then by a fully-trained medical practitioner.
Poorly administered injections can lead to the toxin spreading into adjacent tissues and causing a number of different problems, including drooping eyelids, brows and smiles.
Although very unlikely, there is also a possibility that the effect of the botulinum toxin could spread to other parts of the body and cause botulism-like symptoms.
If you are at all interested in undergoing wrinkle-relaxing treatments, it is vital that you see a properly qualified practitioner to avoid unnecessary risk. Identifying a safe non-surgical cosmetic practitioner has never been easier. Use the Save Face to connect with a safe, credible practitioner in your area and make sure that you stay safe, not sorry.