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Banned treatments 'tested on British women'

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  • Banned treatments 'tested on British women'

    By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor
    02/08/2007

    British women are acting as guinea pigs for wrinkle treatments banned in America, says a report out today.

    Cosmetics companies are taking advantage of lenient British regulations to market dozens of products that are injected to smooth out wrinkles, the consumer magazine Which? reports.

    This may be allowing potentially useless or even dangerous products into Britain.

    There are about 65 "filler" products in Britain compared to only seven in America, where regulations are much tighter.

    Ministers this year backed away from introducing legislation to clamp down on fillers and also Botox - opting for self-regulation instead.

    Concerns have been raised about hairdressers, dentists and beauticians giving injections. Some people have even held Botox parties.

    Every year, 415,000 people have non-surgical cosmetic treatments. Which? is calling on the Government to strengthen the regulations.

    One product, Isolagen, is derived from the patient's own cells so it is not classed as a medicine or medical product in Britain and does not need a licence.

    But experts say that Isolagen, which is promoted by the former Dynasty star Emma Samms, is being hyped and claims that it rejuvenates the skin are "nonsense".

    Thousands of patients lodged complaints with Trading Standards officers after paying up to £3,500 for non-effective injections.

    But the London-based arm of the American biotech company disappeared after customers tried to get their money back.

    Isolagen was withdrawn in America in 1999 but was still introduced to Britain in 2002.

    The firm has since used data gathered in Britain to support its pending licence application in America.

    Before withdrawing from Britain last year, Isolagen described the product as "natural" despite patients' cells being stored in foetal calf serum.

    It claimed that Isolagen had been cleared by the health regulator - even though it did not fall under any British rules.

    And it used British patients' experiences in its US literature, stating that "retrospective study, clinical trials and treatment of patients in Britain" would improve manufacturing for America.

    Douglas McGeorge, the president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said: "There is a growing interest in aesthetic procedures as our annual statistics prove.

    "But there is a danger the public may fall prey to marketing hype.

    ''While medical products in Britain do undergo testing, there are many 'cosmetic' products that claim results which are not substantiated.

    ''The BAAPS has stated in the past its concerns over the lack of strong regulation in the aesthetic industry and urge the public to greet new products with a fair degree of scepticism."

    A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We have every confidence that self-regulation will result in improvements for people choosing non-surgical cosmetic treatments.

    "Our plans for change are driven by the need to ensure that we only use statutory regulation where the reduction in risks to patient safety clearly outweigh the costs and burdens that regulation brings.

    "We feel we can best protect people who wish to have these products by using other tools at our disposal."

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main...rinkles102.xml
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