In the post-PIP aesthetic world, reaction to the scandal has varied. Some have called for stricter regulation and a ban of advertising to consumers; some have withdrawn from the potential risks that can accompany innovative practice; and others have addressed the situation directly by reinforcing the concept of quality within the industry as a whole, as well as continuing to drive high standards of practice.

‘In these situations it’s always good to step back and reflect on ways to bolster the process,’ says Douglas Ingram, President, Europe, Africa and Middle East (EAME), Allergan.

‘There are certainly some things we can do, but I think it is an error to believe that additional, very draconian regulations will ultimately solve the next PIP.’

This is something that Allergan hopes to address through their new ‘Quality is Key’ Campaign. Allergan believes that the real issue arising from the PIP crisis is to provide physicians with the concrete information needed to answer the questions that patients might have; therefore creating intelligent and thoughtful consultations so that patients can make informed decisions on their treatment.

‘I think that giving doctors the tools to decide which products have made themselves worthy of trust and which have the right quality profile — to give information and the tools needed to have that conversation with patients — should raise the bar more than any regulations,’ explains Mr Ingram.

Raising the bar

It is often the case that the patient will not know which questions to ask his/her physician, and leave the consultation with their fears and doubts intact; therefore, as an unbranded venture, the Quality is Key Campaign aims to equip consumers with the right questions to ask when considering medical aesthetic treatments, and enable them to get the highest quality consultation. The questions Quality is Key aims to encourage consumers to ask centre on the ‘why’; for example, what products are you using, why have you chosen to use them, what information do you have about them, what clinical studies support their use?

As a result, Quality is Key will provide physicians with the real information needed to answer those questions, ensuring confidence in the product they choose to use.

‘It’s important to remember that medical aesthetics is still medicine, and although the products used will have
an aesthetic outcome, they are still medical products, so this is not the place in which to choose a cheap product,’ says Mr Ingram.

He continues: ‘The Quality is Key Campaign is probably two things. I would say that the first is considering who is responsible for assuring the quality of products, and the second is that the manufacturers have the obligation to spend a huge investment in time and commitment on the quality of the product.

‘Then we have to consider whether the healthcare provider has an obligation in this process too. And of course, the answer has to be ‘yes’ because he or she has to make a choice — they have to choose between these products and will hopefully choose the one with the highest quality.’

A brave ambition

Of course, the impact of Quality is Key could potentially be huge, and while it may regain some of the trust and confidence that the industry has lost in the wake of PIP, it is a rather large ambition to pledge.

‘It’s very ambitious because it’s not a typical marketing campaign,’ explains Mr Ingram. ‘Our goal is to do something very different — to take the concept of quality and to really drive a higher standard and a dialogue around quality. And essentially, quality can centre on three main ambitions: to participate in putting the industry in a place where quality becomes the differentiator; to increase the confidence that consumers will have when selecting medical aesthetics treatments, and helping them to answer the questions they might have with regard to the quality of products; and to participate in the industry to ensure that it remains vibrant and robust in future.’

Despite the energy the company is putting into Quality is Key, it doesn’t expect any ROI and sees it as a longer‑term investment. When one considers that the PIP scandal garnered over 3000 published articles in the worldwide media, then it is clear that consumers will begin to ask more questions, and decide whether the quality is actually there as a result.

‘We have to understand that historically, manufacturers have not done a brilliant job to provide the kind of information that will allow physicians to make reasoned choices about quality.’

A wealth of experience

Douglas Ingram believes that Allergan’s Quality is Key Campaign will be a landmark for the industry, and something that they are very excited about doing. Starting his career as a lawyer and working throughout Allergan in a number of roles, including media relations, human resources and pharmacovigilance, before becoming President of EAME in August 2010, Mr Ingram is perhaps well placed, and with a wealth of experience, to lead Quality is Key in this region.

‘It’s an amazing culture that really allows people to grow if they’re willing,’ he says of Allergan as a company. This is again reflected in his career path over the last 16 years.

Allergan itself also shows continuing signs of growing: ‘We have a very bright future and a very deep pipeline focusing on innovation. This year we’re launching Juvéderm VOLUMA with Lidocaine, which physicians are very excited about.

‘We are constantly considering how to innovate and offer additional products to help solve treatment issues,’ says Mr Ingram.

The company bases its strong investment in R&D on its heritage. Allergan was established approximately 60 years ago and entered the medical aesthetics arena around 35 years ago, and hope to be here for at least a similar amount of time.

‘We’re going to be here for another 60 years and that requires a certain kind of commitment and R&D,’ explains Mr Ingram. ‘Also making sure that you never lose sight of what’s important. We have a lot of stakeholders, a lot of shareholders, but there’s one thing we have to put above everything else, and that’s the patient. And essentially, that’s the whole point of our Quality is Key Campaign — patient safety has to be the number one issue.’