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Watchdog group assails rampant marketing, sale of ‘toxic’ gluta drip, other whitening products

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Amid the glutathione intravenous (IV) drip controversy at the Senate, the toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition deplored the unabated marketing of such injectable products for lightening the skin in online shopping sites.

Based on the monitoring it conducted Sunday, unapproved injectable glutathione are being sold by online sellers as if these products are totally safe to use.  Glutathione capsules, pills, gummies and related products can also be easily obtained online even in the absence of market authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“We question the unchecked sale of clearly unapproved gluta-IV drips that have flooded online shopping sites as if these products have been assessed for their quality and safety,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Aside from these injectable products, we question the unimpeded sale of contraband cosmetics, facial creams in particular, that have been identified and subsequently prohibited for containing mercury,” she added.  “Some of these adulterated cosmetics have been repeatedly banned but are still sold with impunity like Goree, Jiaoli and S’Zitang facial creams.”

As categorically re-stated by the Department of Health (DOH) last Saturday, Feb. 24, “there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening.”

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“There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment.  Injectable glutathione is approved by FDA Philippines as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.  The FDA has not approved any injectable products of skin lightening,” the DOH noted.

Through Advisory Nos. 2011-004 and 2019-182, the FDA has warned consumers about the numerous risks of injecting glutathione for skin lightening, including “toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system,” “skin rashes to the serious and potentially fatal Stevens-Johnson syndrome,” “severe abdominal pain,” “transmission of infectious agents such as HIV, hepatitis C and B,” and “long-term skin cancer risk.”

The persistent trade of dubious and toxic products that claim to lighten the skin tone may be related to some people’s obsession with white skin and the lingering misconception equating beauty and success with whiteness.

According to the EcoWaste Coalition’s report “Toxic Exposé” documenting the online trade of mercury-added cosmetics in the Philippines, “such a deeply entrenched craving for lighter skin tone is further enhanced by the beauty standards set by the cosmetic, media and entertainment industries, which tend to inculcate the notion that a whiter skin is desirable and can be a ticket to a successful relationship, life and career.”

The group once again encouraged Filipinos to shun chemical whiteners, to embrace our natural skin color with pride, and to stand up against color-based bias, prejudice, and discrimination.

“To cut the manufacture, importation, distribution, advertising, promotion, and sale of glutathione IV drips, mercury-added facial creams and other unauthorized skin lightening products, we appeal to all consumers to appreciate and cherish our natural skin tone and desist from altering it,” the group said.

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