NEW DELHI: The government has banned over the counter sale of 14 skin creams and ointments containing steroids that were being extensively marketed for skin conditions like pigmentation, itching, and inflammation.
The move comes following a sustained campaign by dermatologists across the country who had been demanding ban on manufacture and sale of steroid based ointments by the Union ministry of health and family welfare.
These creams can now be purchased only after showing doctor’s prescription.
Officials in the health ministry said that a notification has been issued by bringing the 14 drugs under the Schedule H of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945 following the recommendations of the Drug and Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) under the Drug Controller General of India.
In November last year, a group of eminent dermatologists in the country had written to the Centre and the drug regulatory authority demanding a ban on manufacturing and sale of such lotions saying that they are “hazardous” and leading to a fungal epidemic in India.
“India is facing a unique epidemic of difficult to treat superficial fungal infections,” the letter by the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists, and Leprologists had said. A similar letter had been shot by the International League of Dermatological Societies supporting the demand put forth by Indian dermatologists.
“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,” the letter had also said.
Many senior IADVL members said that while the government has taken a step in the right directions, there are many more such ointments and steroids that need restrictions.
“We have been drawing the attention of the government towards it as steroid based creams are being misused rampantly and are making treatment of the fungal infection in the country very difficult,” said a senior IADVL functionary.
“Now the government has done a good thing by putting some ointments on the list of Schedule H drug but I will call it only a partial crackdown—sale and manufacturing of many more such creams need to be regulated,” he said.
“Also, ideally these creams should not be allowed to be manufactured altogether as no doctor prescribes them and in India putting drugs on prescription list is not a guarantee against its misuse.”