OTC creams with steroids causing fungal epidemic in India

Dermatologists demand ban on sale, manufacture of creams marketed for pigmentation, itching and inflammation.

 

Published: 16th November 2017 10:00 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2017 10:00 PM   |  A+A-

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Beware of what you apply on your face, as a group of eminent dermatologists in the country have written to the Centre and the drug regulatory authority demanding a ban on manufacture and sale of several skin creams containing steroids that are marketed for skin conditions like pigmentation, itching and inflammation.

In strongly-worded letters written to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI), dermatologists have said that a number of medicated skin lotions available over-the-counter (OTC) are actually “hazardous” and are leading to a fungal epidemic in India.

“India is facing a unique epidemic of difficult to treat superficial fungal infections,” reads the letter written by the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists. A similar letter has been shot off by the International League of Dermatological Societies supporting the demand put forth by Indian dermatologists.

“One of the most significant factors responsible for this unfortunate situation peculiar to India is the multitude of creams containing combinations of antifungals, topical steroids and antibacterials.”

“Many of these combinations are irrational, unethical and hazardous to the public. Many have been deemed irrational and hazardous by high-level Government-appointed committees. And yet they continue to be manufactured and are introduced as effective antifungal agents to chemists who in turn sell them most often as OTC drugs,” states the letter.

The association has also written that “it is shocking to see that the drug industry, including some of the top companies are manufacturing relatively new combinations, in addition to many combinations that are being marketed freely, despite the full knowledge of their hazardous nature.”

Yogesh Marfatia, president, IADVL said that such creams, easily available at pharmacies under the brand names of Ringout Plus, Panderm Plus and Quinoderm H among others, are manufactured only in the Indian subcontinent and have a dangerous combination of chemicals.

“These combinations have strong potencies of steroids that give short-term benefits like relief from pigmented patches, redness and itching but in the long term they cause many health issues such as various kinds of infections and hampered disease resisting capacity,” Marfatia said.

“No dermatologist recommends them, but chemists sell them and people are trapped into buying them. As a result, many patients experience irreversible conditions like skin atrophy, thinning of skin, lowered immunity or simply get addicted to the cream,” he added. “We therefore want the Government to look into the issue immediately”.

Shyamanta Barua, general secretary of the IADVL said that such creams are now openly being advertised in print, electronic and digital platforms.

“Last years, the DCGI took a decision to put such lotions in the Schedule H of the Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances rules which means that they cannot be sold without prescription but it has not been notified yet,” he pointed out.

 “Taking advantage of the fact, many pharmaceutical companies are now openly advertising them as panacea to many skin problems. We however contend that such creams should not be allowed to be manufactured altogether as they don’t do any good and are leading to the menace of antimicrobial resistance,” Barua also said.

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