SMOOTH MOVE: A dermatologist demonstrates how botox or other anti-wrinkle medicines are applied via syringe to a patient. Picture: THINKSTOCK
SMOOTH MOVE: A dermatologist demonstrates how botox or other anti-wrinkle medicines are applied via syringe to a patient. Picture: THINKSTOCK

The owner of a medical spa frequented by stars on the hit television show Real Housewives of Orange County has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge that she purchased Botox with foreign labels, US federal prosecutors said.

Bridget "Gigi" Goddard, a nurse and the owner of Pure Indulgence Skin Rejuvenation in Laguna Niguel, California, pleaded guilty to one felony count of receiving and delivering a misbranded drug, said Eileen Decker, US attorney for the Central District of California.

Goddard appeared on the cover of the free Orange County Gazette magazine in 2009 alongside Real Housewives stars Lynne Curtin and Jeana Keough.

According to a search warrant, Goddard advertises that she was featured on Real Housewives of Orange County as well as the CBS programme The Doctors.

An attorney for Goddard did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The case marks the latest effort by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to crack down on the importation of foreign unapproved drugs.

The Botox at the heart of the government’s case was authentic product manufactured by Allergan.

But the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act makes it a crime to buy or sell a drug if it is manufactured without FDA oversight or lacks labels approved by the FDA — even if the drug is made by the legitimate manufacturer.

According to court records, Goddard purchased foreign Botox from SB Medical, which pleaded guilty in 2015 to conspiring to smuggle foreign misbranded products into the US. After SB ceased operations, Goddard started buying foreign Botox from a Canadian company called Doctor Medica, the records say.

According to recent reviews on Yelp, Goddard’s business has shut down. Some customers complained they had prepaid for services and wanted their money back.

"I was there for my appointment when the police showed up with a search warrant," wrote one reviewer in June. "Since then their phone has been disconnected … I called my credit card company to get reimbursed."

"I’m worried about Gigi," said another on November 8. "This is not like her."

The FDA’s criminal investigations into foreign-sourced Botox have sparked controversy.

In September, Reuters reported that many agents had grown frustrated and started calling themselves the "Botox police" because they believed the cases were protecting Allergan’s bottom line more than consumers’ health and safety.

A review of lab reports by Reuters found that the vast majority of foreign-sourced Botox seized by the FDA in criminal cases was authentic but lacked FDA-approved labels.

FDA agents have been spending hours tracking down doctors, nurses and clinic owners who purchased foreign Botox, though few have been charged.

George Karavetsos, the head of the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations, previously told Reuters that the cases against medical providers primarily targeted high-volume purchasers and doctors who ignored FDA warnings by continuing to buy foreign drugs.

Reuters

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