The Indian health ministry yesterday ordered the ban of 14 steroid-filled fairness creams and ointments. The over-the-counter ban was taken to prevent the indiscriminate sale of creams containing steroids and antibiotics without a prescription.
Some of the banned substances include: beclomethasone, alclometasone, desonide, desoximetasone and fluocinonide amongst others.
On March 23, the Health Ministry issued a notice which put 14 steroid-based ointments and creams under the Schedule H category by effectively making amendments to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules of 1945. Currently in India, steroid power is banned.
The Drugs Technical Advisory Board (DTAB) put forward their ban recommendations to the Central Drugs Standards Control Organisation (CDSCO) following complaints from dermatologists that a number of pharmaceutical firms were selling steroid-based ointments and creams to patients without giving them the proper medical guidance and prescription.
The bans are applicable to various skin creams which contain steroids or other prescription drugs. At this point in time, ordinary moisturizers and face cleansers do not come under the revised rules.
Dr Umashankar Nagaraju, Honorary Secretary General India Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) said: “We have been writing to the health ministry that pharmaceutical companies were selling steroid based creams and ointments to patients who use them without medical guidance. It is a good move but, a lot more has to be done.”
India is subject to widespread abuse and misuse of topical steroid creams. The problems do not just affect the less educated rural populace but also has proven to be a problem in urban cities with a higher social demographic.
Dr Rohit Batra, a dermatologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “There are some ointments and fairness creams sold in the market that have huge content of steroid. These products are easily available over-the-counter without any prescription. So, in case of any skin problem, it is essential to consult dermatologists having MD, Diploma and DNB qualifications.”
A survey of 2,926 dermatology patients in 2013 highlighted the fact that 433 (14.8 percent) of those studied were using topical steroids and of the creams being used, a staggering 392 (90.5 percent) of possessed harmful ingredi