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THE INVESTOR

Bio & Medicine

Park's 'aesthetic injections' grow in popularity in Korea

  • PUBLISHED :January 05, 2017 - 17:46
  • UPDATED :January 05, 2017 - 17:46
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[THE INVESTOR] South Korean pharmaceutical companies are looking to cash in on the growing popularity of “aesthetic injections” triggered by revelations they were regularly used by President Park Geun-hye, who is currently facing an impeachment trial.

According to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, eight “nutrient injections” were granted sales approval over the course of three days from Jan. 2 to Jan. 4. This makes up some 44 percent of the 18 pharmaceutical products approved by the ministry during this period.

Such injections consist of amino acids and vitamins that are said to lessen fatigue as well as whiten the skin, fight aging and even lower body fat.

The shots have grown in popularity after allegations President Park received various aesthetic injections, including those with human placental extract, to treat fatigue and fight aging.

Park, who is awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision on her impeachment, has been at the center of a political scandal involving her close friend Choi Soon-sil, who allegedly peddled influence in state affairs and extorted money from businesses using her ties to the president.

During the investigation, Korea’s Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service revealed that Cheong Wa Dae purchased around 890 pharmaceutical products, most of them nutrient injections, worth 169 million ($142,000) from January 2013 to August 2016.

Despite public anger toward Park, the scandal has nonetheless boosted public interest in the president’s beauty regimen, including the “nutrient shots” she reportedly received for years.

Local dermatology clinics and hospitals have rolled out various aesthetic injection packages -- some advertised as “beloved by the president” or the “VIP shot” -- to cater to a growing number of people who are interested in receiving these shots.

Readily available at local clinics, these injections cost around 50,000 to 100,000 won per shot. They are not covered by insurance, making them lucrative sales items for drugmakers and clinics alike.

However, Korean doctors and experts have cautioned against the effects of such aesthetic injections, saying there is insufficient evidence to prove their efficacy and that they could prove harmful to one’s health.

To address growing concerns, the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare recently stated plans to provide both the public and doctors with more information and guidelines regarding the effects and safety of the shots within the first half of 2017.

The ministry said it commissioned the National Evidence-Based Healthcare Collaborating Agency in early 2016 to carry out a study to investigate six types of nutritional injections circulating in the public.  

By Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald (jys@heraldcorp.com)






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