Pharmacists who offer aesthetic services in their pharmacies are backing the call to make dermal fillers prescription-only medicine (POM), as some fear the current state of the industry does not put patient safety first.  

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing has published several recommendations to the Government on how it can plug the current lack of a legal framework of standards around cosmetic treatments.  

This comes after their year-long inquiry into cosmetic practices across the UK, since the boom in popularity and availability of these treatments.  

One of the recommendations put forward by the body is for fillers to become a POM in a bid to ‘remove a significant danger’, ‘raise standards’ and ‘protect the safety and wellbeing of consumers.’  

This would mean that the product can only be given to a patient once they have seen a medical professional and that the same medical prescriber would oversee the treatment and be on hand to provide remedial treatment if necessary.  

The report found that the current state of legislation in the UK means that anyone — no matter how unqualified — can administer filler which the APPG said presents a ‘serious risk to the public.’  

Rahul Patel, a pharmacist at Brothers Pharmacy in Leicester told The Pharmacist he welcomed the prospect of fillers being prescribed. 

‘This would help regulate the field more and ensure a better quality service and the product is provided,’ he said..’  

‘There are so many people out there getting hold of fillers, many of which are substandard and unregulated and are therefore causing serious side effects.’ 

Sajni Chudasama, a pharmacist at FaceKind said she has had many patients come to her with complications after receiving their filler from non-medical practitioners.  

‘I have to pick up a lot of mess because untrained people just don’t have the skills to handle it when it goes wrong.’ 

She said this is not only uncomfortable for the patient but also increases healthcare professionals' — like herself — already heavy workload. 

Politics over patient saftey 

Amish Patel, director of Hodgson's Pharmacy in Kent also welcomed the recommendations as a ‘big step in the right direction,’ however, told The Pharmacist that he does not think they go far enough.  

Much like Rahul Patel, he also believes that healthcare professionals are best placed to provide the service.  

‘Fillers becoming a POM is a quick win to try and would stop a lot of beauticians and non-healthcare professionals from offering the service.’  

However, he said he believed that it should only be healthcare professionals who offer these treatments. 

‘This would of course be met with a lot of backlashes,’ he explained, ‘there are so many beauty therapists offering these treatments at the moment, and a lot of associations would back them.’  

‘I think, unfortunately, politics are going to come before patient safety in this case.’   

Similarly, Ms Chudasama, said the call doesn’t go far enough to protect patients.  

‘If the recommendation gets picked up it’ll be the case that non-medic can administer the treatment as long as they do it in the same building as a medically trained professional which I don’t think is good enough, I think it should be in the hands of a medic. 

‘Healthcare professionals have a strong focus on CPD so by nature we are constantly looking to improve ourselves, researching, going on training, e-learnings and just keeping up to date. The same framework is not there for someone who is not medically trained so how can we expect the same level of safety from them?’  

More regulation 

Commenting on the rest of the report, Amish Patel said that the recommendations lacked certain regulations.  

‘The report does not mention a CQC like regulation and inspection of premises, that other healthcare settings have to pass to practice.’ 

The report also recommends the introduction of advertising restrictions on fillers, but Mr Patel argued that this is not enough.  

He said that there are widespread instances of ‘inappropriate’ advertising of filler training online. 

‘I see every other company advertising filling training by pushing the line that people can make six figures by only working a few hours a week, which prays on struggling people.’  

The APPG said that many customers are unaware of how unregulated the industry is, therefore assume treatments they are receiving are safe. 

Therefore, the body also pushed for a mandate that requires practitioners to hold a regulated qualification in line with national standards. 

It also said that psychological pre-screening of customers should be mandatory,  

Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP, chairs of the APPG, said: ‘For too long there have been next to no limits on who can carry out aesthetic treatments, what qualifications they must have, or where they can administer them. 

‘We launched this inquiry as we were deeply concerned that as the number of advanced treatments on the market continues to grow, the regulation remains fragmented, obscure and out of date which puts the public at risk. 

‘We were also particularly concerned about the advertising and social media promotion of these treatments and how to make sure vulnerable people, such as children and those at risk from mental ill-health, are protected. 

‘We strongly urge the Government to implement the recommendations in our report and to take action to improve the situation for the benefit of the industry and public safety. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.’

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