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FDA Asked to Ban Lindane from Head Lice Shampoos

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Washington, DCLindane, the insecticide used in prescription shampoos to treat head lice in children, has come under fire by Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.). Markey has sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requesting that the agency halt the use of the insecticide in pharmaceutical products to treat children with head lice.

A statement to the press, from Mackey’s office, notes “Despite research supporting its toxicity and ineffectiveness, the FDA continues to allow lindane to be used in prescription shampoos and lotions to treat cases of lice and scabies, overwhelmingly on children.

Lindane has been found to cause skin irritation, seizures, and, in rare instances, even death. Infants and children are especially sensitive to the health risks posed by pesticides such as lindane because of their developing bodies. In 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined that lindane could cause cancer in humans, and the EPA cancelled all pesticide registrations for agricultural uses of lindane in 2006 because of its toxicity to humans and persistence in the environment. A 2002 study that compared efficacy of five available products on head lice found that lindane was the least effective of all the products.”

“In the case of lindane, the cure is worse than disease,” said Markey. “There is not a nit of scientific evidence to support the FDA’s decision to continue to allow the use of this toxic chemical for treatment used predominantly on children.”

Markey’s letter also notes that the presence of lindane in treatment products has led to its detection in and contamination of waterways. Officials in Los Angeles found that a single treatment for head lice or scabies contains enough lindane to bring six million gallons of water above the California water quality standard. The pharmaceutical use of lindane was banned in California in 2002. And in 2009, more than 160 nations agreed to ban the agricultural use of lindane.

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