16 children develop ‘werewolf syndrome’ after taking contaminated medication in Spain

16 children develop ‘werewolf syndrome’ after taking contaminated medication on Spain’s Costa del Sol

  • Sixteen children took medication tainted with minoxidil, an alopecia remedy
  • A Malaga-based pharmaceutical company had its licence suspended in July
  • Minoxidil found its way into omeprazole, used to treat indigestion
  • Health officials are advising parents to check batch numbers with pharmacies 

Sixteen children have developed ‘werewolf syndrome’ after taking contaminated medicine in Spain.

The youngsters have hypertrichosis – hair growth throughout their bodies – after taking a formula tainted with minoxidil, an alopecia remedy.

The Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products ordered that several batches from Farma-Química Sur SL, a Malaga-based pharmaceuticals company, be taken out of circulation on July 11.

The children were given tainted omeprazole, used to treat acid reflux and indigestion, as part of a formula. 

A Mexican man with the condition (file photo)

File photo of an Indian schoolboy with hypertrichosis (left) and a file photo of a Mexican man with the same condition (right)

Health sources told El Pais it was noted that when the children stopped taking the medicine their hair growth subsided.

Parents have been advised to seek medical help if their child has been given the formula and check with their pharmacy if they have purchased an affected lot.  

Officials believe the contamination could have affected up to 30 Andalusian pharmacies. 

Farma-Química Sur SL has had its licence suspended and cannot manufacture, import or distribute drugs.

The pharmaceuticals company has a supplier in India and it is reported by Granada Hoy, the contamination was made at source.

Spanish authorities say that the issue is isolated to the formulas for children and that adults taking omeprazole capsules should not worry about developing ‘werewolf syndrome.’

What is ‘werewolf syndrome’?

Hypertrichosis is the term used for the growth of hair on any part of the body in excess of the amount usually present in persons of the same age, race, and sex.

Patients can be born with the condition or develop it later in life. 

It excludes excessive hair caused by abnormally high levels of male hormones.

A Nepalese mother and her children with hypertrichosis, also known as 'werewolf syndrome' (file photo)

A Nepalese mother and her children with hypertrichosis, also known as ‘werewolf syndrome’ (file photo)

Excessive hair may cause cosmetic embarrassment, resulting in a significant emotional burden.

Treatment options are limited, and the results of therapy not always satisfactory.

No single method of hair removal is appropriate for all body locations or patients, and the one adopted will depend on the character, area, and amount of hair growth, as well as on the age of the patient, and their personal preference.

The currently available treatment methods include cosmetic procedures; bleaching, trimming, shaving, plucking, waxing, chemical depilatories, and electrosurgical epilation; and hair removal using light sources and lasers.

Laser-assisted hair removal is the most efficient method of long-term hair removal currently available. 

Source: American Journal of Clinical Dermatology 

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