Friday 13 September 2019
Beardy Beardy Baby
Minoxidil has an interesting story. It was first developed by Upjohn 60 years ago as a potential treatment for peptic ulcers. It didn't work for that condition but was revealed as a potent vasodilator and marketed to lower blood-pressure. In the Phase I clinical trials, one of the side-effects was unexpected hair growth and it started to be marketed off-label for male pattern baldness. Eventually in 1988, 30 years after its first discovery, it was approved by the FDA for hair loss. Seemingly the moribund hair follicles get a new lease of life from a local rush of blood because of the vasodilation.
These two completely different drugs collided [El Pais for detail, BBC for exec summary]in the South of Spain this Summer when a dozen infants were taken back to the doctor with hair fuzzing up their faces in a most disconcerting manner. niños con "síndrome del hombre lobo" / werewolfchild was an easy label for lazy headline writers. All these children had been prescribed Omeprazole, and the fine people at Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios AEMPS got on the ball really quickly to identify the problem and get the product off the pharmacy shelves. Turned out that the local manufacturer of the reflux drug - Farma-Química Sur - committed an 'internal error' and somewhere in the process Minoxidil was mislabelled as Omeprazole. I guess it became most obvious first in infants because we expect their skin to be smooth as a baby's bottom. Big Red Face in Farma-Química Sur but I bet none of the QC managers lost their jobs.