Pinoys warned anew vs Glutathione, whitening products

By Florence F. Hibionada

ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES – Government warning is out anew against the use and trade of whitening products and “Glutathione,” particularly those administered intravenously or Glutathione IV.

A recurring public caution that was first officially addressed by the Philippine Dermatological Society (PDS) in 2008 still, latest warnings are out again. Worse yet, added to the public notice is the ban on 50 cosmetic whitening products now, some with Glutathione and others found to have mercury content beyond the legal limit.

The ban came over the weekend as declared by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with orders out for authorities to seize said products if found on display. The use of Gluatathione IV on the other hand, is subject of a Department of Health (DOH) – FDA Advisory No. 2011-004.

“Warning to the Public,” the advisory went. “The use of glutathione IV as a skin whitener is not approved by the FDA. The public is strongly warned to refrain from using glutathione for this purpose in light of potential harm associated with such use.”

And there has been an “alarming increase in the unapproved use” of glutathione IV too, the advisory continued, that were “at very high doses.” Such, FDA officials now rule, “is unsafe and may result in serious consequences to the health of the users.”

The DOH-FDA warning particularly cautions those who take 600 mg to 1.2 mg weekly or even twice a week saying, said treatment and dosage are approved for “neurotoxicity associated with cisplatin chemotherapy.”

Neurotoxicity is explained as an occurrence that “can result from exposure to substances used in chemotherapy, radiation treatment, drug therapies and certain drug abuse, and organ transplants as well as exposure to heavy metals.” On the other hand, research shows that Cisplatin is a chemotherapy drug “which is used to treat cancers including: sarcoma, small cell lung cancer, germ cell tumors, lymphoma, and ovarian cancer.”

Further still, at least five adverse reactions as reported and validated by the DOH-FDA were noted topped by skin rashes to the serious and potentially fatal Steven Johnsons Syndrome (SJS) and Toxic Epidermal Necrolysis (TEN).

As explained, SJS and TEN are two forms of a life-threatening skin condition “in which cell death caused the epidermis to separate from the dermis….. Although the majority of cases are idiopathic (without a known cause), the main class of known causes is medication, followed by infections and, rarely, cancers.”

There are also derangements in the thyroid function of the glutathione IV user, kidney failure and to those who take it twice a week, severe abdominal pain.

The DOH-FDA warning was issued by Acting Director IV, Dr. Suzette Lazo.

In Iloilo, no immediate confirmation was reached on the use and proliferation of glutathione IV however glutathione use in various “forms” are known to be in demand.

Meantime, banned now for its toxicity as well are the following beauty products with data as culled by The Daily Guardian (TDG) from FDA newswires:

1. Jiaoli Miraculous Cream
2. Jiaoli Huichusu Special Cut Genuine Cream
3. Jiaoli 2+1 7 days Clearing Facial Spots Suit
4. Jiaoli Huichusu Whitening Speckless Removal Cream
5. Xin Jiao Li 7-Days Specific Eliminating Freckle Cream
6. Jiaoli 10-Days Eliminating Fredkle Day
7. Jiaoli 7-Days Eliminating Fredkle AB Set
8. Jiao Liang Miraculous Cream
9. Xin Jiao Liang 7-Days Miracle Package for Spots Refining
10. Jiao Mei Miraculous Cream
11. Jiao Yan Specific Miraculous Cream
12. Jiao Li 10-Days Eliminating Freckle Day
13. Beauty Girl Double White Collagen Elastin Whitening Night Cream/Double White SPF17AP++ Whitening Day Cream
14. Yinni Green Tea Quick Acting Whitener & Speckle Remover Package (Yellow & White Cream)
15. Glutathione Grapeseed Extract Whitening & Anti-Aging
16. Doctor Bai Skin Revitalizing Skin Brightening (Doctor Bai Intensive White Revitalizing & Speckle Removing Set)
17. Young Age Defying Essence
18. Gemli Glutathione Hydrolyzed Collagen Whitening & Anti-Aging
19. Qiang Li Zeng Bai Qu Ban Wang Whitening Cream
20. Shengli Day & Night Cream
21. S’Zitang Cream
22. BIB Day Cream Whitening Cream—921
23. St. Dalfour Beauty Whitening Cream
24. Beauty Girl Papaya & Hawthorn Essence (10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence)
25. Beauty Girl Ginseng & Green Cucumber (10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed
26. Beauty Girl Essence Aloe Pearl (10 Double Whitening Speckle Removed Essence)
27. Beauty Girl Olive & Sheep Essence (10 Double Whitening Speckles Removed Essence)
28. BIB Nigh Cream Whitening Cream—922
29. Pretty Model Whitening & Freckle Removing (Day Cream & Night Cream-Set)
30. Pretty Girl 10 Day Special Cream
31. Pretty Girl Green Cucumber & Ginseng Cream
32. Liliki Whitening Day Cream—912
33. Lilliki Whitening Night Cream—912
34. New Miss Beauty Magic Cream
35. Jiaoli Rejuvenation Essence 10 Days Speckle Removing
36. Jiaoli Liang 7 Days Eliminating Fredkle AB Set
37. Jiaoli Liang 10 Days Eliminating Fredkle AB Set
38. Beauty Girl 6 Days Specific Eliminating Fredkle Whitening Cream Egg White & Tomato 3 in1
39. Beautiful Dream Whitening Anti-Speckle and Anti-Acne Kit
40. Miss Beauty Magic Cream
41. Miss Beauty Excellent Therapy Whitening Cream
42. Daggett and Ramsdell Underarm Lightening Cream
43. Lanmeirou 12 Days Whiten & Speckle Removing Suit
44. Berglotus Spot Removing Series
45. Yoko Gentleman Cream for Men
46. Jonathan Clearing Facial Spots 12 Day Cream
47. The Flower Woman 7-Day Whitening and Spot and Night Set Cream
48. Sara Glutathione Sheep Placenta Whitening and Anti-Spot Cream
49. Aichum Beauty Green Tea Whitening Speckle Removing Series Cream
50. Aichum Beauty Whitening Freckle Day and Night Cream

“These cosmetic products, therefore, pose imminent danger or injury to the consuming public and the importation, selling or offering for sale of such is in direct violation of the FDA Act of 2009,” FDA in Advisory No. 2011-012 said.

To note, government check on said products was made after the discovery of excessive mercury content in these beauty products by advocacy group, EcoWaste Coalition.

Too much mercury damages the kidneys and various body systems, including the nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, hematologic, immune and reproductive systems.

The PDS glutathione position paper has since addressed the misconceptions on glutathione use. PDS is the country’s sole authority in the field of dermatology as recognized by the Philippine Medical Association.

PDS for its part has debunked claims made by distributors of Glutathione and Glutathione products. Incidentally, Iloilo is known as one of the major selling areas of over-the-counter Glutathione products and home to enticing billboards showing endorsements of celebrities.

Good medicine must be evidence-based medicine, the PDS then stressed while noting that testimonials are the lowest level of evidence.

Even the matter of glutathione tablets as supplements and glutathione IV has since been addressed by the group with warning that such have not been scientifically proven to bring skin whitening “anti-aging” or skin rejuvenating effects.

“Beware of retailers and distributors who make such claims,” the PDS said. “Intravenous glutathione is considered a drug and should only be purchased and administered upon advice and supervision of a physician.”