Cosmetic business mechanics in London: A cross-sectional analysis and audit of ASA compliance


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IntroductionThe proliferation of providers and practitioners of cosmetic botulinum toxin and dermal filler has profound public health implications. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulates the use of advertising materials in the United Kingdom and prohibits the promotion of prescription-only medicines. AimsWe aim to perform a cross-sectional analysis of the practitioners in London, UK to evaluate the distribution of clinics within Greater London, prices advertised for interventions, and compliance with the ASA code. We also aim to identify whether there are any differences in cost of botulinum toxin or dermal filler between the boroughs. MethodsBetween December 2021 and January 2022, we performed a systematic search using the internet search engine Google. Five searches were performed (1) [london] botox, (2) [london] botulinum toxin, (3) [london] anti wrinkle injection, (4) [london] filler, (5) [london] dermal filler. One hundred websites per search string were systematically reviewed and those which met the inclusion/exclusion criteria of each search string were included and analyzed. Each clinic's product/service range compliance with the ASA/CAP code was assessed. Any reference to Botulinum Toxin or anti-wrinkle injections was noted and analyzed. Further analysis would look to calculate price per milliliter (mL) of botulinum toxin and dermal filler per borough and to calculate whether there were any statistical differences between the 32 different London boroughs. ResultsA total of 500 websites were visited and evaluated. After removal of duplicates, a total of 233 independent clinics was identified. A total of 206 out of the 233 clinics sampled (88%) were in direct infringement of the enforcement notice through advertising a prescription medicine. The overall average cost per mL of dermal filler was 330.89 pound and there was a statistically significant variance across London boroughs (p < 0.05). The overall average cost per mL of Botulinum Toxin was 284.45 pound and the variance across London boroughs was close to significant (p = 0.058). ConclusionThis paper demonstrates poor compliance with the ASA/CAP guidelines and further provides an insight into the industry mechanics associated with aesthetic injectables in a major UK city, identifying regional variance in price and clinic density. The advertising of prescription-only medication may pose a potential risk to patients and will be an important consideration in proposed legislation to introduce licensing to the industry.
botulinum toxin,cosmetic legislations,dermal filler
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