Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Dentists advertising Botox injections urged to be legally compliant

By Dental Tribune UK
January 23, 2020

LONDON, UK: As aesthetic dentistry continues to grow in popularity, cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers and botulinum toxin injections—most commonly Botox, but also Vistabel, Dysport, Bocouture and Azzalure—have been increasingly offered by dental practices. To prevent breaches of current advertising regulations regarding these services in the UK, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have issued new guidance on the subject.

The enforcement notice from CAP and MHRA details how social media promotions for Botox and other prescription-only medications (POMs) have become more common among dental professionals. This is a significant issue, since the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 states that a “person may not publish an advertisement that is likely to lead to the use of a prescription-only medicine”.

As outlined in the enforcement notice, from 1 February 2020, monitoring technology will be implemented to automatically remove any social media posts with direct references to Botox and other POMs. In addition, indirect references to POMs in social media posts through phrases such as “wrinkle relaxing injections” and “anti-wrinkle injections” have also been banned.

Instead of these direct and indirect references, CAP and MHRA have recommended that dental professionals advertise “a consultation for the treatment of lines and wrinkles” as an acceptable alternative.

Though it is known in the public eye primarily for its cosmetic reduction of facial wrinkles, Botox’s history as a therapeutic form of medical treatment is surprisingly long. In the late 1970s, it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the US for treatment of patients with strabismus, a condition that causes the eyes to be misaligned.

In a dental context, Botox can be injected into overactive muscles to reduce their activity levels. As a result, it has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorders, and even to promote the osseointegration of dental implants.

“Increasing numbers of dental practices offer injectable cosmetic treatments, and patient demand continues to rise, but many may not be aware of the regulations restricting the advertisement of prescription-only medicines and treatments,” commented Prof. Mike Mulcahy, Faculty of General Dental Practice lead on non-surgical facial aesthetics, in a press release marking the enforcement notice’s issuance.

“To avoid the possibility of facing regulatory action, I strongly advise all dentists who administer Botox to read the new guidance and immediately review, and if necessary adapt, their social media, websites and other marketing to ensure compliance,” Mulcahy added.

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