This may affect OBAGI, SkinMedica,NeoCutis and IMAGE skin care lines.
For many years Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists in the United States and all over the world have been treating their patients’ skin and helping them look and feel better about their facial appearance, using a combination of products and services. For example, to effectively treat and improve facial wrinkles, sun damage, photo-aging and hyper-pigmentation, doctors have provided their patients with at-home cosmeceutical regiments which often includes Retin-A and Hydroquinone. These at home routines are as important as the services offered in Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists’ offices. For example, to get the most benefit out of a full face CO2 Laser or Fraxel treatment or even a facelift, the skin should be optimized and “prepped” to achieve its maximum elasticity. Suppression of melanocyte activity is also very important prior to most facial laser and chemical peels in order to avoid post-inflammatory rebound hyperpigmentation. These goals have been achieved using Retin-A and Hydroquinone as part of a medical skin care regimen such as Obagi, SkinMedica, NeoCutis or Image Skincare lines.
However, now the State of Virginia is apparently banning physicians from being able to provide these important medical skin care options to their patients. There have been rumors of the DEA or officials from the State Board of Pharmacy, raiding doctors’ offices in Virginia, prohibiting and fining them for selling these skincare products in their offices! There have been additional rumors as to how this all got started since Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons have always been able to provide these products to their patients in Virginia and other states. There are rumors that a jealous Dermatologist in Southern Virginia “informed” the State Board of Pharmacy that her neighboring competing Dermatologist was selling these products without a Pharmacy License. The other rumors are that local Virginia pharmacists complained to the Virginia Board of Pharmacy about physicians taking business and profits away from them by selling these products in their offices rather than prescribing them to their patients. These are all rumors that have been floating around over the last few weeks but the fact is that the practice of dispensing facial cosmeceuticals like Obagi, SkinMedica, NeoCutis and Image containing Retin-A and Hydroquinone, have changed in Virginia and may do so elsewhere as well.
What the Virginia Pharmacy Board is now apparently saying and demanding is that physicians selling these products should have a “pharmacy license.” While the actual license and its cost are not the major debating factor, the procedures that are required for a physician to take prior to being given a Pharmacy License are complex, tedious and unwarranted and not needed in the vast majority of states other than Virginia. The other disturbing part of this news is that the various vendors selling and supplying these products to Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons have apparently known about such suffocating laws but not informed their physician clients, thereby placing the physicians at risk with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and DEA. These are all very concerning new developments and while the entire story is not clear yet, the fact is patients will not be able to get the care and treatment they have been used to getting for many years and might elect to get their products from unknown and unsafe online sources rather than their trusted local Dermatologist or Plastic Surgeon. The vast majority of physicians will elect not to jump through the complex and silly hoops set forth by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy and will elect not to provide these important products to their patients. This is troubling indeed!.