Hair loss drug could be dangerous to children

13/01/2015

There are many different hair loss drugs on the market at the moment. Some can be very effective and some have side effects we have questioned in previous articles on this blog, but there was rather frightening news this week that one product in particular could well be dangerous if taken by children.

Increased heart rate and low blood pressure

The information came from a case study in a French Emergency Paediatric Care report where a little girl apparently swallowed less than a teaspoon of Minoxidil. The 7 year old child had been coughing and her mother, in a rush to give her some cough syrup, picked up the bottle of Minoxidil by accident. When she started experiencing a dangerously fast heart rate, low blood pressure and vomiting she was hospitalised. The symptoms continued for a period of 24 hours.

Minoxidil which is bought over the counter in France under the brand names Alopexy and Alostil comes in a pump dispenser which is no longer child proof once opened. The adverse effects experienced by the child were probably due to the fact that Monoxidil was originally marketed to lower blood pressure in hypersensitive patients.

Author of the report Dr Isabelle Claudet feels there should be robust restrictions around the drug and that it should not be available either over the counter or on the internet. She feels it should also be clearly stated on packaging of the side effects which may be encountered if taken by a child. It also ought to be made clear that the same kind of symptoms (i.e. low blood pressure and increased heart rate) can be seen in an adult though not so severe as in a child.

A small amount can be dangerous

Even though the girl only swallowed a teaspoon, this was still 10 to 100 times greater than the therapeutic dose used for treating hypertension in children. Dr Claudet told Reuters Health “The main problem is it is considered as a safe product because it is used for its hair effect, but people forget its main indication as a hypotensive agent. At therapeutic dosage there is usually no serious effect, but for a child, some millilitres or a teaspoon can lead to long-lasting hypertension.”

Not everyone felt his was the time to change laws and regulations. Peggy Ball, director of the Johnson and Johnson consumer group (Johnson and Johnson manufacture a similar product called Rogaine) commented in an email that the product packaging of Rogaine includes a warning to parents to keep the drug out of reach of children. She felt the first line of defence must be good parental supervision, secure storage and safe use education.

 

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