The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) of Ghana has cautioned the public against the use of creams, ointments, lotions and other topical preparations containing steroids.
The steroids -Betamethasone, Clobetasol, Fluocinonide, Acetonide and Hydrocortisone- are used for skin lightening and for other non- medical purposes.
A statement issued in Accra by the FDA, and signed by Mr Hudu Mogtari, the Chief Executive Officer, which was copied to the Ghana News Agency, said such preparations including Betnovate, Dermovate, Tenovate, Lemonvate, Epiderm, Dexacort, had been registered by the FDA as Prescription-Only-Medicines (POMs) and should, therefore, be sold or bought only on prescription from a qualified medical doctor.
The FDA said the frequent, indiscriminate, and the prolonged use of such corticosteriod-containing preparations was associated with risks, including the following; thinning of the skin leading to difficulty in holding the skin during surgery.
They also made the affected skin more prone to damage like bruising, development, or worsening of acne and permanent stretch marks, hyper pigmentation, glaucoma and even cataracts, upon prolonged application to the eyelids.
They additionally inhibited the skin’s ability to fight off bacterial or fungal infections, while their absorption into the blood stream adversely affected other parts of the body, when applied widely on the skin.
“The general public is, therefore, warned to desist from selling or buying such products from cosmetic shops, markets, hawkers, drug peddlers, and from pharmacies without the required prescription,” the FDA stated.
The statement warned that any person or company found selling these POM preparations without prescription would face stringent regulatory sanctions.
“We further encourage the general public to provide information on persons in any activities that are likely to endanger public health and safety with respect to FDA’s mandate,” the statement said.