A Bay Area doctor imported black market drugs, but she told her patients they were genuine Botox and Juvederm

On November 22, 2022, San Francisco doctor Lindsay Clark pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for receiving and delivering non-FDA approved drugs and devices to her patients. Her medical practice also received a felony, since apparently we live in a world now where corporations are people and they get their own separate criminal penalties.

According to the Justice Department's press release, she purchased prescription drugs and devices that weren’t FDA-approved and dispensed them to patients. We’re not talking about faulty masks here. She was purchasing botulinum toxin and cosmetic fillers, medical products that are injected into you. And she made over a million dollars doing it.

PSM has covered prosecutions of physicians for breaking the secure supply chain before. We’ve seen the haughty attitude some physicians have about the secure drug supply chain, insisting that what they get are the same drugs that you would get in the U.S., only cheaper.

Unregulated cosmetic treatments are dangerous

Injecting patients with black market botulism or fillers is not a risk anyone should take. That’s why it’s illegal. The risks of black market medications include facial paralysis, blindness, infection and even death. Let’s take a look at what can happen:

  • Earlier this year two individuals in New York City were charged with injecting non-FDA approved fake versions of Botox into nine patients who all required medical assistance. One victim from Brooklyn developed a fever and inflammation in his face. When he returned to the couple they gave him more injections, attempted to make incisions to drain blood from the wounds, and antibiotics. Not surprisingly he ended up in the hospital with a serious infection.
  • In 2017, two people offering unlicensed cosmetic services gave a New York woman injections in her buttocks and hips. Soon after she reported dizziness and chest pains. She was rushed to the hospital, slipped into a coma, and was declared brain dead.
  • In 2015, a plastic surgeon ordered what he thought was Botox from a Chinese supplier and injected it into a patient who lost all use of her facial muscles for eight months. The fake Botox was actually snake venom. Two years later, she had only regained 70% of muscle function in her face.
  • In 2006, a beautician was charged with murder after she injected a client with what she thought was Botox, but was instead corn oil. The patient had an embolism and died and the beautician was sentenced to 15 years.
  • In 2005, a Florida physician injected himself and three others with his own illegally acquired counterfeit Botox. All four of them ended up in the hospital on ventilators to keep them alive. Months after the injection, one victim was still hospitalized. Another couple was only able to go home after months of hospitalization and physical rehab.
screenshot of the doctor's website

Screenshot from Dr. Clark's website.

Case documents

"Doctor Pleads Guilty to Using Misbranded and Adulterated Products Sold as Botox and Juvederm," U.S. Department of Justice, November 28,2022

Indictment, USA v Lindsay Marie Clark, April 1, 2021

Sentencing Memo, USA v Lindsay Marie Clark April 20, 2023

There should be real consequences for putting your patients at risk.

What happens to medical professionals when their patients have a negative reaction to the black market injections they receive? When they end up with hospital bills, reconstructive surgery bills, and lost wages, do the medical professionals end up paying for their losses out of their pocket? Not without a lawsuit forcing them to, we bet. If there’s no documented harm to patients from black market, non-FDA approved products, that doesn’t absolve Dr. Clark and her peers: there’s no excuse for risking the health of patients for profit.

Physicians who break the supply chain often say that they believed that they were buying medicines that were “just like the real thing” only cheaper. But the world is full of criminals who will happily endanger patients for a buck, which is why we have laws that prohibit you from injecting patients with medicine that isn’t FDA-approved from companies that aren’t licensed by the board of pharmacy.

We have these laws because as a society we have agreed patient safety is paramount, and can’t be determined by a physician who may be less than careful when they have an opportunity to make a buck, or a million of them in the case of Dr. Clark.

Dr. Clark has pleaded guilty and will be sentenced in April of 2023. We hope that after that happens the California Medical Board takes a hard look at her case and sanctions her appropriately for making money by putting her patients at risk.

Below you can read court documents from this case, view our gallery of what kind of injuries patients suffer from counterfeit cosmetic injectables, and click this link to view our collection of bookmarks of physicians who got in trouble after endangering their patients.

Fake Botox and fillers can cause pain, disfigurement, and even death