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FDA Rejects Request to Ban Lice Shampoo for Kids

By Ed Silverman

After more than two years of deliberation, the FDA has rejected a request to halt the use of an insecticide in pharmaceutical treatments for head lice in children.

November 30, 2012

Known commercially as Lindane, the chemical has been widely used as an agricultural tool around the world, but is also a key component in a topical lotion and shampoo that are approved by the FDA for combating lice and scabies, although only as a second-line treatment. The request was made in 2010 by the National Resources Defense Council in the form of a citizen’s petition (here it is) and was reiterated last June by Massachusetts congressman Ed Markey, following a long-standing, but little known controversy over the chemical and its use in prescription products in the US. The battle was initiated by the National Pediculosis Association, a non-profit organization that has fought with drugmakers and government agencies over the insecticide. As we wrote previously, Lindane is a neurotoxin that can affect the liver and kidney, and infants and children may be more susceptible to potential adverse effects than adults, which was noted by the US Department of Health & Human Services Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (see this). The potential adverse effects prompted the Stockholm Convention to ban Lindane production and agricultural use three years ago (look here). The package inserts for the lotion and shampoo both list the possibility of seizures and deaths.

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