Let’s say you go to the Boise Towne Square mall to get medical treatments designed to partially paralyze your face to make it look more youthful, through injections of Botox. (The Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports, “Botox injections relax the muscles that create wrinkles thereby lessening the appearance of frown lines, laugh lines and crow’s feet. After a Botox injection, for example, you are no longer able to frown so the lines created by frowning are eliminated. … Results usually last three to six months.”) The doctor’s clinic is handily located right near Mervyn’s, not far from Mrs. Field’s Cookies. The treatments are pricey as can be, but, ah, what price youth?
It turns out that for many patients, that price included headaches and other symptoms that lasted for six months, because the doctor involved had cut the Botox with a much less expensive toxin that not only hadn’t been approved by the FDA, but was labeled “not for human use.”
That doctor, Dr. Ivyl Wells, stood before a federal courtroom packed with more than 80 people yesterday, including former patients and their families, and was sentenced to six months in prison for injecting 200 of his patients with the unapproved toxin. He pled guilty in July to two counts of mail fraud, one count of adulterating a drug with intent to defraud, and one count of misbranding a drug with intent to defraud. U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge also gave Wells a $40,000 fine, two years of supervised release following his prison time including six months of home detention, and 300 hours of community service. Federal prosecutors had sought a two-year prison term, but it apparently weighed in Dr. Wells’ favor that he’d already paid $88,000 in restitution to his victims by refunding the hefty fees they’d paid him for the service.
“I was lied to and stolen from – I trusted him with my life,” said one patient who was identified only by her initials, G.B. Another patient, T.D., who spoke at the sentencing, said, “He risked my life without care or conscience. My hope is that the court will recognize that he did this intentionally, knowing it could cause harm.” Three victims spoke at the sentencing; three other former patients spoke in support of Dr. Wells, former operator of Skinovative Laser Center in the Boise Towne Square mall, with one calling him “very professional.”
In the plea agreement, the doctor admitted that he observed the labels and knew about the warnings, and that he knew the TRI Toxin he injected into his patients was not FDA-approved Botox. He mixed the two half-and-half. Wells surrendered his Idaho medical license in October 2005 after charges were filed.