Local doctors using non-FDA-approved Botox

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SAN DIEGO – The US Food and Drug Administration is targeting medical practices using a non-FDA approved version of Botox.  Several of the practices are in San Diego.

The agency sent out letters notifying physicians they were using Botox purchased Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 3.26.06 PMfrom an online Canadian pharmaceutical, Canadadrugs.com.  Of the named practices, 5 of them were in San Diego.  Fox 5 is withholding the names at this time, because we have not discussed the reason for the purchase with the doctors.

Generic versions of Botox are available in Mexico and Canada.  It is only legal to use FDA approved products in the US.

Dr. Eugene Nowak of Nowak Aesthetics in Chula Vista said non-FDA approved Botox is unsafe.

“I know I’ve seen the ads come across my desk,” said Nowak.  “The problem is with foreign products, you may be getting a weaker product or it may be too strong.  There is also no quality control, you really don’t know what they are delivering.”


Nowak said if you’re in doubt ask your doctor or you can check the packaging.

“The vial has a little bit of a hologram image to it,” said Nowak.  “To be a real product it should have that and you’re looking for signs it is labeled by Allergan.”

Nowak said foreign products have a greater chance of being contaminated, counterfeit or just unsafe.  It’s not clear what the problem is with the Canadian product, but the company has had problems in the past with counterfeit.

“They have had a history with counterfeit chemotherapy drugs,” said Nowak.

“I just needed a little lift,” said Jennifer Velasco. “There was some wear and tear.”Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 3.24.16 PM

Velasco has been coming to Dr. Nowak since 2001.  She said she does not trust anyone to erase the wrinkles on her face except for Dr. Nowak.

“I just know with him he uses quality products and that’s important to me,” said Velasco.

Jennifer is all to familiar with bad Botox.  Her friend had injections from Mexico.

“One eye was droopier than the other, the forehead also was droopy,” explained Jennifer. “She will has repercussions of that and that was 3 years ago.”

She knows she doesn’t have to worry about that now, because with Dr. Nowak she’s in good hands.

“I’ve done my homework with him and you never have to worry about them using substandard product,” said Velasco.

Screen Shot 2013-02-14 at 3.25.32 PMNowak said always make sure your doctor is board certified and you’re going to a reputable office.

“If it seems like the Botox is for a really good price and too good to be true, it probably is,” said Nowak.

You can read the full FDA document here


  • guest

    Per your new cast on February 14th there was supposed to be a list of doctors that were using non-FDA-approved Botox. When will the public be informed of who they are?

    • Sharon Chen

      If you read the FDA document — you'll see the list of the practices the letters were sent to. They are listed in there. You can also email me and I can send you the list. schen@tribune.com.

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