Imperial Valley doctor pleads guilty for using unapproved cosmetic drugs

By SDCN Editor 

San Diego, CA–A doctor practicing in Imperial Valley pleaded guilty on August 25 for using foreign unapproved, and misbranded cosmetic drugs for years, authorities said.

Tien Tan Vo pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of receipt of misbranded drugs in interstate commerce and being an accessory after the fact to an accomplice, who smuggled the unapproved drugs into the United States from Mexico. 

In his plea agreement, Vo admitted that none of the injectable botulinum toxin or lip fillers used by his clinics between November 2016 and October 2020 was approved for use in the United States. This specifically included a botulinum toxin product called “Xeomeen” and an injectable lip filler called Probcel—both products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Vo acknowledged that he received $100,767 in gross receipts for almost four years of cosmetic services performed with unapproved drugs and devices. As part of his plea agreement, he has agreed to forfeit that amount and to pay a fine of $201,534.  Vo also agreed to pay restitution to victims of his offense.  

In his plea agreement, Vo admitted purchasing most of his unapproved drugs and devices from the operator of a “med spa” in Mexicali, Mexico, who smuggled them into the United States without declaring them. 

“All members of our community should be able to trust that their doctor is acting in their best interest,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden. “Through this prosecution, we are protecting patients from unapproved and potentially unsafe drugs and will always seek to thwart those who would exploit patients for financial gain.”

“Injecting unapproved medicines poses a significant threat to public health and can have serious consequences for individuals,” said Chad Plantz, Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego. “Together, with our partnered agencies, we need to educate people of the dangers caused by using unauthorized botulinum toxin (the active ingredient in Botox, Xeomin, and similar products) and thwart those who smuggle and illegally use it for cosmetic procedures.”

Sentencing is set for November 16 before the U.S. Magistrate Judge Allison Goddard.

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