There was a brief time, not all that long ago, when discountmedspa.com was the Internet's go-to place for gray market botulinum toxin, that Mansfield's Laurie D'Alleva could call herself the Botox Queen.
Then, Wired stumbled upon her site -- and the how-to videos featuring D'Alleva injecting the product into her face -- and discovered they could buy pharmaceutical-grade cosmetics like Renova, Dysport (aka "The Freeze") without a prescription.
"20/20" followed up with a segment two months later featuring a horror story from discountmedspa.com customer "Alex," a paramedic who nearly went blind after dosing herself with an injectable facial filler labeled "Vitalift," and a plastic surgeon who was concerned by discountmedspa.com's crudely packaged, mysteriously named products.
D'Alleva defended her business, saying she offered "good products that worked" and that "99 percent of our customers were thrilled."
But D'Alleva is not a doctor, she has no apparent medical training, and she is not legally allowed to write prescriptions or sell prescription drugs. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott noted as much in a lawsuit which D'Alleva settled by agreeing to pay $125,000 and stop selling prescription drugs.
The 2010 settlement did little to placate the federal government which, through the FDA, is charged with regulating Botox and similar products. On Thursday, federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against D'Alleva (court documents write her name as Dalleva) charging her with one count of "dispensing a misbranded prescription drug without a valid prescription."
Court documents provide few details that haven't been previously reported. Her operation lasted from about December 2008 to November 2009 and she obtained her products from "different sources, including a Syrian-based company located overseas."
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There are a couple of obvious takeaways from D'Alleva's case. One is that the feds are serious about people who illegally push prescription drugs. The other is that self-injecting a drug derived from a deadly bacterium into one's body is a terrible idea. If the horror stories that populate the Internet aren't convincing enough, then compare the Botox how-to D'Alleva shot five years ago with the mug shot from her recent arrest in Tarrant County for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Here's the video:
And here's the mug:
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.