Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
FDA Considering Banning Some Over-The-Counter Skin-Lightening Creams Primarily Used By Dark-Skinned Minorities
FDA is considering banning dozens of over-the-counter skin-lightening products that contain hydroquinone as the active ingredient because of health concerns, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Hydroquinone creams are primarily used by patients in the U.S. to treat scars, age spots, freckles, sun spots, uneven skin tone and other blemishes. Prescription creams would not be banned, though doctors would be prohibited from tailoring skin-lightening formulations for patients. FDA proposed the ban based on a South African study that found hydroquinone can cause blue, gray or black discoloration. In South Africa, the ingredient is used in much higher concentrations and spread over the entire body to lighten skin tone. Such uses are very uncommon in the U.S., according to Elton Tinsley, a Chicago plastic surgeon who specializes in black skin. Other studies have linked hydroquinone to cancer in rats and mice. However, the American Academy of Dermatology said that there have been no documented human cancers linked to hydroquinone and that the skin discoloration is "remarkably uncommon" in the U.S. A ban on products containing hydroquinone would deny a safe, effective and affordable treatment to blacks, Hispanics and Asians "for whom health disparities abound," AAD said. The National Medical Association dermatology section, which represents black doctors, also opposes the ban. Black Opal, Clear Essence, Esoterica and Ultra Glow are among the products that would be affected by the ban. FDA is reviewing about 200 comments on the issue. "Unless the agency changes its mind, the ban would take effect 30 days after publication of a final rule," according to the Sun-Times (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 1/28).
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