DOH reiterates warning vs ‘gluta’ drip as skin whitener

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
DOH reiterates warning vs �gluta� drip as skin whitener
Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla conducting an IV drip session in the Senate office of her husband Robin Padilla
Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla via Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has reiterated its warning against using glutathione for skin lightening after photos of actress Mariel Rodriguez-Padilla receiving a “gluta drip” in the Senate circulated online.

Glutathione drips, particularly those marketed for skin whitening and rejuvenation, have seen a rise in popularity in the Philippines.

“The DOH does not support the use of glutathione for skin whitening,” the agency said in a statement Saturday evening.

Citing an advisory issued by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019, the DOH said it “categorically states that there are no published clinical trials that have evaluated the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening.”

The department added that there are no published guidelines for appropriate dosing regimens and duration of treatment. 

The FDA has not approved any injectable products for skin whitening. Injectable glutathione is only permitted as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy. 

According to the FDA, injectable glutathione for skin lightening carries risks of toxic effects on the liver, kidneys, and nervous system, along with the possibility of Steven Johnson Syndrome. 

Concerns were also raised about possible long-term skin cancer risks associated with glutathione use.

Last month, a 39-year-old woman died just hours after getting intravenous (IV) glutathione and stem cell treatments at a clinic in Quezon City. 

The victim’s death certificate stated the immediate cause of her death as anaphylactic shock—or a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction. Glutathione and stem cell intravenous infusion was identified as the antecedent cause.

Following the incident, Health chief Teodoro Herbosa noted that “it’s off-label use and illegal.”

Medical, legal action

The DOH advised those who experience side effects from glutathione to seek medical action immediately and report to the FDA at [email protected] or through the agency’s website. They may also call the Center for Drug Regulation and Research at (02) 8809-5596.

“For the next steps to take should you think that injectable glutathione was wrongly prescribed for you by a physician, please consult a practicing lawyer or the Public Attorney's Office for legal advice on matters such as medical negligence and what may be done in the interest of justice,” the department said. 

Herbosa earlier told Philstar.com that Rodriguez-Padilla will not be held responsible for receiving a gluta drip inside the office of her husband Sen. Robinhood Padilla. 

“There is only a liability when there is harm. Which means the patient can sue the doctor that prescribed it,” Herbosa said. 

Sen. Nancy Binay, who chairs the upper chamber’s ethics committee, noted that the procedure was administered outside a clinic and without proper medical advice from licensed health professionals. 

"As public figures, we should be more aware of our responsibilities to the public," she said in Filipino.

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