Mumbai: Fairness creams that contain the drug, Hydroquinone, will soon be included in the list of schedule ‘H’ drugs, the Union health department has said.
With this, over-the-counter (OTC) sale of creams containing Hydroquinone will not be allowed without the doctor’s prescription.
According to the health ministry and dermatologists, overuse or prolonged use of creams containing this drug causes cancer.
Taking the possible side effects into consideration, the Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had written to the Union health ministry regarding the excessive use of this unauthorised medication across the state.
With consultation of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, the Central government has categorised 14 steroids used in fairness creams as schedule ‘H’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945.
Schedule ‘H’ prohibits OTC sale of drugs sans proper prescription.
So far, there are over 500 drugs and now, steroids found in fairness creams have been included as well.
Dr Ratnakar Kamath from the skin department of state-run J.J. Hospital said, “The overuse of these creams always causes side effects, and prolonged usage is dangerous. It’s nothing like the way these advertisements say like you will be fair after using so and so cream.”
“Most of these creams contain some amount of steroids as many people are unaware about it. Prolonged usage of these creams causes atrocious thinning of the skin, making it more sensitive to sunlight and increases hair growth on the face along with troublesome acne,” he said.
FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade, said, “The Drug Consultative Committee of the Central government has come up with this as it has ill-effects. Once these drugs get included in schedule ‘H’ of the Act, they cannot be sold without a doctor’s prescription and there can be no advertisements of the creams in any media.”