The Kansas Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against a Garden City physician assistant claiming he failed to tell his patients that he was using a form of BOTOX® purchased overseas not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Joel Thomas Erskin, who filed Tuesday as a Republican candidate for the Kansas House of Representatives’ 123rd District, has been ordered by Judge Michael Quint to stop doing business as a PA in Kansas, pending the outcome of the lawsuit filed Wednesday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
According to a press release issued Thursday, Schmidt filed a consumer protection lawsuit Wednesday in Finney County District Court against Erskin, who is part owner and operator of Renovo Medical, LLC, and University Medical, LLC, 816 N. Campus Drive.
The lawsuit claims Erskin, through his businesses, was in violation of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act by advertising and carrying out Botox injections using Botox not approved by the FDA.
BOTOX® is a drug used to cosmetically remove wrinkles by temporarily paralyzing facial muscles and is a registered trademark of pharmaceutical company Allergan, the only FDA-approved company to sell the product.
The lawsuit also accuses Erskin of misrepresenting himself as a medical doctor, as well as operating, at times, without the appropriate physician supervision required by Kansas law.
Erskin is licensed by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts as a physician assistant.
According to the lawsuit, Erskin was seen on the premises of Renovo Medical wearing a name tag identifying himself as “Dr. Joel Erskin.” The lawsuit also alleges Erskin provided medical services between January and September 2013 without being supervised by a licensed Kansas physician.
The lawsuit identifies another gap in supervision between Jan. 28 and March 1 of this year.
According to the attorney general’s press release, the lawsuit resulted from a lengthy investigation of the Erskin’s business practices conducted by federal authorities and the attorney general’s office.
According to an affidavit included with the lawsuit, Renovo Medical originally was registered under the name of Sabo Enterprises in 2000 and was located in Wichita. The name was changed to Renovo Medical in 2008.
According to the affidavit, Dr. Richard Toon and Erskin operated Renovo Medical Clinic, LLC, in Wichita, and moved the clinic to 519 W. Mary St. in Garden City in 2013, where it operated as Renovo Medical Clinic.
According to the affidavit, Toon purchased BOTOX® from Allergan from 2011 to 2013, but Allergan stopped shipping BOTOX® to the clinic after it moved to Garden City.
Toon was listed as the supervising physician and Erskin as the PA at the Garden City site at that time. According to the affidavit, the clinic’s website, www.renovomedical.com, was advertising Botox injections, even though the product was not purchased from Allergan during that time period.
Toon ceased acting as Erskin’s supervising physician in January 2013, resulting in the gap in supervision until September 2013, when the lawsuit states Dr. Daniel Dunn began supervising Erskin.
According to an affidavit attached to the lawsuit, Tonya Hutchings, a special agent assigned to the Consumer Protection Division of the Kansas Attorney General’s office, used an undercover identity to make an appointment on Aug. 20, 2015, for a consultation at Renovo Medical.
During the initial appointment, an employee of the clinic, Destinee Cogburn, assured Hutchings the Botox injections the clinic would be using to treat Hutchings’ wrinkles were Allergan products.
Hutchings set another appointment for Oct. 28, 2015, to have Botox and Juvederm injections.
At 10 a.m. Oct. 28, 2015, the FDA, assisted by the Kansas Attorney General’s office and the Garden City Police Department, served a search warrant at the cinic, at which point misbranded Botox not intended for the U.S. market was removed from the site.
During the search, it was learned that 175 patients were seen for Botox injections from 2013 to 2015. The files were removed by the FDA.
Schmidt is seeking civil penalties and investigative fees.
The lawsuit is not the first legal trouble for Erskin. He was arrested in May 2009 and convicted in August 2010 of felony criminal threat, then failed to disclose his arrest to the Board of Healing Arts when he applied to renew his physician assistant license in December 2009.
Failure to disclose the arrest resulted in suspension of his license from April 14 to April 28, 2012. He also was ordered to pay a civil fine of $2,000.
According to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts website, cgi.docboard.org, Erskin’s current physician assistant license expires Jan. 31, 2017.
Erskin did not return phone calls seeking comment for this story.
According to Bryan Caskey, director of elections with the Kansas Secretary of State, a convicted felon may run for office after that person has completed serving his or her sentence, and Caskey confirmed that Erskin was eligible to file for office.
Erskin was named campus dean of National American University at Garden City Community College in April 2014. According to Ron Shape, president and CEO of NAU, he is no longer employed with NAU.
Erskin was in the Air Force between 1986 and 2008, serving multiple tours in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
Erskin’s opponent for the District 123 seat, former Finney County Attorney John Wheeler, R-Garden City, said he had not been actively campaigning because he was running unopposed for the seat.
“But now I do have an opponent, so I’m going to have to start recruiting for funds, because it costs money, and start purchasing yard signs,” Wheeler said. “I’m going to take the matter seriously.”
Despite the news of the lawsuit against Erskin, Wheeler said he is going to act as if Erskin intends to stay in the race.
“I’m going through today undertaking the decisions that require expenditure funds, and I’m going to proceed forward as if I am in a contested election,” Wheeler said.
The seat currently is held by Rep. John Doll, R-Garden City, who filed in April 2015 to run against incumbent Larry Powell, R-Garden City, in Senate District 39.