People are also cautioned to refrain from buying medicines from unauthorised sources

The Drug Regulatory Authority (DRA) has notified the people to be cautious of self-medicating with skin cream and ointments containing steroids.

The authority issued a public notification on its website on October 13 stating that use of steroids causes many side effects such as pigmentation, skin thinning, rashes and develop sensitivity to chemical and environmental factors.

While steroids have medicinal benefits, it also leads to increased risk of sunburns and susceptibility to infections. “Continual use of such creams or ointments will lead to the development of steroidal resistance making it difficult to treat skin conditions in the longer run,” the DRA notification states.

Officiating chief regulatory officer with DRA’s post-marketing control division, Pelden Chejor, said such notifications are issued to create awareness to the public on issues related to product quality and patient safety. It is the responsibility of the authority to ensure public safety by ensuring the quality, safety, and efficacy of medicinal products.

“We cannot list every individual cream that contains steroids as not all cosmetic creams will have steroids as its ingredients,” Pelden Chejor said. “While we do not regulate cosmetics currently, the notification applies to all cosmetics containing steroids irrespective of the method of marketing.”

He said it is important that the authority disseminates information to the public from time to time through different mechanisms.

“One of the methods we employ is by issuing public notifications,” he said. “This is also the form of continuous dialogue that we engage ourselves in with relevant stakeholders and the public.”

Pharmacies are also advised against selling and dispensing creams and ointments containing steroids without prescriptions to patients.

In the last one month, the authority issued another two notifications on the use of Oxy-99 and on the purchase of medicines from unauthorised premises and persons.

The product, Oxy-99 is reported to be used as a first aid medication in overcoming mountain sickness by some high-altitude hikers and trekking companies in the country, according to the notification.

Oxy-99 is oxygen in a portable can or cylinder and is said to increase oxygen levels in the body and help restore brain and body functions to normal.

DRA has not registered Oxy-99 as a medicinal product because it does not fulfil to be under the category.

The authority has cautioned the public not to use such products for any medical conditions to prevent the risks of delay in reporting to healthcare centres in medical emergencies.

The authority also notifies the public not to purchase medicines from unauthorised premises and persons as they may be spurious, substandard, false and even contain some controlled narcotic and psychotropic substances.

The notification states that based on the information received from the media and individual hearsay sources, DRA noticed that some people are purchasing medicines from unauthorised premises and persons.

“It is illegal to possess such products in the country without a valid prescription or import authorisation. If found, the authority shall take legal action accordingly,” the DRA notification states.

Pelden Chejor said all three notifications are issued to create awareness and for public information. “The three notifications convey different messages and are for different categories of products.”

Dechen Tshomo