For legal reasons, we actually can’t say the B word and that needs to change.
You may have seen the gorgeous selfie Kelly George posted a couple of weeks ago on Instagram. It wasn’t any different from the other pictures you’d see in your feed at peak posting time, except for one small detail.
Kelly’s head strategically covers part of a neon sign that hangs in her clinic, Kelly George Aesthetics. Why? It refers to a popular brand of anti-wrinkle injections, and in Australia, it is illegal to advertise schedule 4 drugs direct to the public.
This law is mandated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), as it believes that direct-to-consumer advertising does more harm than good. It thinks that the advertisement of these drugs would lead to misinformation, and ultimately, only benefit the pharmaceutical companies, not consumers. For the most part, that is correct.
However, as we all know, cosmetic injectables sit in an entirely different category to say blood pressure pills. Both are prescription-only medications that need to be issued by a health care professional, but injectables generally are not used therapeutically. Injecting filler for cosmetic purposes is a choice while injecting insulin to manage type one diabetes isn’t, and this is why Kelly believes their needs to be new classification specific to cosmetic injectables for the aesthetics industry.
“Cosmetic patients are essentially clients. They are choosing to have the procedure. Of course, they should make this choice in consultation with their health care professional. Still, separate classification of these drugs would allow clients the opportunity to educate themselves before a consultation and select a clinic based on a better understanding of the quality of products used,” Kelly said.
The benefits of a new classification for injectables are multifaceted and extend beyond being able to post cute neon signs on Instagram. That’s just the icing on the cake.
Education is one of the biggest reasons Kelly advocates for this change. She says that it’s the industry’s main means of advertising. Several clinics use their social media platforms to discuss what can be done to combat aging, but they are always limited to what they can say.
America does not enforce such laws, which is why you’ll often see celebrities in advertising campaigns for branded injectables. These are only a Google search away and create confusion for those viewing them from an Australian lens.
“It becomes difficult to educate consumers when we’re forced to use phrases like “anti-wrinkle substance” or the blanket term “injectables” because of where we live, while those same consumers have instant access to overseas clinics that are openly using the brand names. Our clients already know the words, we’re just not using them, so it creates confusion,” Kelly adds.
There are also ethical reasons for reform. Kelly explains a trained eye can spot that injectables advertised at $3 per unit would be of a different brand compared to those advertised at $15 per unit. New patients cannot discern these differences. They assume they are all the same, but there is no such thing as genetic injectables. Taking this a step further, without transparency, it leaves room for disreputable businesses to allude to using a specific product when, in reality, they are using a cheaper alternative.
“If we could talk about brands, we could explain that the $3/unit clinic requires significantly more units to achieve the same result at the $15/unit clinic. In the end, both will cost you around the same amount of money, and we haven’t had a chance to talk about the actual pros and cons of each product,” she said.
Unfortunately, without law reform, the parameters around injectables will remain unchanged. Instead, Kelly focuses on being as transparent as possible with her clients and encourages them to ask questions about their injectables when visiting her clinic. When it comes to direct consultation, there are no-holds-barred on what injectors can say about the products they use.
“It’s always important for people to educate themselves on what is being put in their bodies, whether it be a new supplement they are taking or needles in their face.”
Practitioners, let us know in the comments, do you wish you could use brand names on social media?