As a medical aesthetic clinic, keeping costs low yet fair is vitally important for the survival of our business, especially during these times.
Unfortunately, some aesthetic practices attempt to combat this by engaging in a practice known as ‘parallel importation’, which allows them to save money significantly on legitimate, name-brand drugs by importing them indirectly through other countries at a lower cost.
However, this practice is highly controversial, and partaking of it might end up costing you as a patient a lot more than if you’d simply paid the advised price.
So, if the price for your fillers looks to good to be true, it probably is. And this could be why…
Here in the United Kingdom, as well as Germany, France, Sweden, and Canada, the government regulates the cost of pharmaceuticals. These measures are designed to prevent drug manufacturers from charging too much for what those governments consider essential medicine, but they also apply to pharmaceuticals (such as Allergan and Merz) that supply certain products for elective procedures, such as those offered by medical aesthetic practices, including botulinum toxin and fillers.
What is Parallel Importing?
Parallel importing is an unauthorized import of non-counterfeit goods into a country. The goods are imported without the express permission of the intellectual property owner (i.e. the manufacturer).
In the parallel part of the import, it is a distributor, wholesaler, or retailer involved in bringing a reduced price patented, copyrighted, or trademarked product into a country that it was not originally sold into through the correct processes.
Why not to use them?
Although parallel imports may be the real deal, there’s no way for the manufacturer to track where they have been, how they have been stored, or even if they are still in date.
This leaves patients in a very precarious and potentially dangerous position. Along with being unable to track what has exactly been injected, it also leaves patients without the security of knowing that if complications do occur, the manufacturer is not able to intervene.
This means that any side affects you may encounter will not be the issue of the manufacturer. It’s also likely that the injector will not be insured against using such products either, leaving you to foot the bill for the damage caused.
Is parallel importing illegal?
At first glance, there’s nothing illegal about producing goods and exporting them. But what comes into question is how your goods arrived in a particular country.
For example, if you originally exported your goods to the U.K. and then discovered that those goods were then moved from the U.K. to Spain for consumption without your permission, that form of parallel importing is illegal.
If an adverse outcome occurs while using a product acquired via parallel importation, a medical aesthetic practice exposes itself to significant legal issues by having used a drug that is intended for sale and use in a foreign country.
Practitioners may incur major fines, and the medical professionals involved in the administration of these drugs could face the suspension of their medical licenses.
Therefore patients [and doctors, alike] need to be cautious when injectables are offered at bargain prices, because they may have been obtained through unregulated websites or offshore; they may be counterfeit and there’s no one to assure purity or content.
Serious injury or personal harm may result when unknown substances are injected.
How to find a legitimate practitioner
The best place to find a legitimate practitioner that purchases directly from the manufacturer is via the manufacturers own website. They will only include clinics that are proven specialists in their product. For example:
Juvederm: Find a Clinic
Profhilo: Find a Clinic