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MCAZ red-flags 2 cancer drugs

Local News
Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe director Richard Rukwata

THE Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has warned Zimbabweans against buying two medicines used to treat cancer saying they cause birth defects.

In a statement, MCAZ director Richard Rukwata identified the drugs as Isotretinoin and Thalidomide.

“These two formulations have teratogenic effects when taken by women of childbearing age,” Rukweta said.

“A teratogen causes foetal abnormalities resulting in birth defects including death. Isotretinoin has major effects such as learning disabilities, psychomotor and mental retardation in children exposed prenatally.”

Isotretinoin, also known as 13-cis-retinoic acid and sold under the brand name Accutane among others, is a medication primarily used to treat severe acne.

It is also used to prevent certain skin cancers.Thalidomide, sold under the brand names Contergan and Thalomid among others, is an oral medication used to treat a number of cancers, graft-versus-host disease, and many skin disorders.

According to Rukwata, other effects included damage to the face, genitalia and internal organs including heart and kidney.  

"Due to these severe adverse effects both medicines may only be prescribed by specialist practitioners, stored and dispensed from pharmacy departments of central hospitals or other facilities duly authorised to do so by the medical body.

“MCAZ is strongly advising members of the public against buying and selling of Isotretinoin and Thalidomide without first consulting a specialist dermatologist or oncologist respectively. If a member of the public procured any of the two medicines without consulting a specialist dermatologist or oncologist, you are required to report to the Authority for assistance as you may be at risk.”

MCAZ is mandated to protect public health by enforcing the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act (MASCA) and other relevant regulations.

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