DOH warns vs injected skin whiteners, anti-aging products

DOH warns vs injected skin whiteners, anti-aging products

By: - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
/ 05:30 AM January 17, 2024

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MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) warned the public to be more careful in choosing dermatological treatments, products, or services after a woman in Quezon City died recently, reportedly after being injected with certain skin whitening and anti-aging solutions.

“As of now, the [Food and Drug Administration] has not yet approved intravenous glutathione for skin whitening,” Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa said at a press conference on Tuesday.


“We also warn the public so that you may not end up in the morgue [after] lying on a clinical bed and waiting to look more beautiful or younger,” Herbosa said.


“Check if the stem cell clinic is licensed. If it’s not on the list, then it is illegal. Most of our stem cell facilities are situated in big hospitals,” he added.

Herbosa issued the reminder following reports that a 39-year-old woman died hours after undergoing stem cell therapy and being injected with glutathione at a clinic in Barangay Phil-Am, Quezon City, on Jan. 9.

Dead after 2 hours

Based on a report from the Quezon City Police District, the woman, who had chronic kidney disease, suffered a seizure and became unconscious after her treatment before dying about two hours later.

The death certificate identified the immediate cause of death as “anaphylactic shock” or a severe allergic reaction causing blood pressure to drop and air passageways to narrow and hinder breathing suddenly.

“Glutathione and stem cell intravenous infusion” was listed as the antecedent cause.

It was not immediately known if the family of the victim would press charges against the clinic.


No guidelines yet

The FDA has long warned the public about the dangers of injectable skin-whitening agents such as glutathione. In a 2019 advisory, the regulator said it had not approved any injectable products for skin whitening, including glutathione, Vitamin C and other preparations.

Injectable glutathione has been approved by the FDA only as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy.

“There are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening. There are also no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment,” it said.

As to side effects, injecting glutathione for skin lightening is found to have toxic effects on the liver, kidneys and the nervous system. The FDA also warned that its long-term use increases the risk of skin cancer.

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In an advisory issued on May 13, 2020, by the DOH Bioethics Advisory Board, there are only six hospitals in the country with FDA approval to conduct stem cell therapy, particularly hematopoietic stem cell transplantations, corneal resurfacing with limbal stem cell and skin regeneration with epidermal stem cells.

These are the Asian Stem Cell Institute in Pasig; the Lung Center of the Philippines and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City; Makati Medical Center in Makati; and St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City.

TAGS: anti-aging, Department of Health

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