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Zimbabweans Warned Against Buying Drugs Linked To Birth Defects


The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has warned Zimbabweans against buying two cancer medications that have been found to cause birth defects.

In an official statement, Richard Rukwata, the director of MCAZ, identified the drugs as Isotretinoin and Thalidomide.

“These two formulations have teratogenic effects when taken by women of childbearing age, a teratogen causes fetal abnormalities resulting in birth defects including death, Isotretinoin has major effects such as learning disabilities, psychomotor and mental retardation in children exposed prenatally,” he said.

Isotretinoin, also known as 13-cis-retinoic acid and sold under the brand name Accutane among others, is primarily used for the treatment of severe acne.

It is also prescribed to prevent certain skin cancers.

Thalidomide, sold under various brand names such as Contergan and Thalomid, is an oral medication used to treat a range of cancers, graft-versus-host disease, and several skin disorders.

Rukwata further warned of additional adverse effects associated with these medications, including damage to facial features, genitalia, and internal organs such as the heart and kidneys.

MCAZ further emphasized that both medicines should only be prescribed by specialist practitioners and dispensed from pharmacy departments in central hospitals or other authorized facilities.

“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.

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“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,” Rukwata added.

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