A Quick Look at Some Drugs Banned by NAFDAC in Nigeria (Issue 3)

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In July, we looked at a few drugs banned by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) due to reported cases of adverse side effects and other health-related risks. You can view the articles here and here. Today, our focus is on some of the contents of cosmetic products — specifically drugs or compounds that are banned from being included in cosmetic products in the Nigerian market:

1. Mercury-containing creams and soaps

Drug Name: Mercury-containing creams and soaps

Brand/Trade Names: Tura, Crusader, Peuclaire, Movate, A3, Mic, Looking Good, Sivoclaire

On August 2, 2002, NAFDAC re-emphasized the ban on the manufacture, sale and importation of creams and soap containing mercury in the Nigerian market. These products are often marketed as skin anti-acne treatment, skin lighteners or anti-aging treatments. Mercury and mercury compounds are also banned by the Cosmetic Product (Prohibition of Bleaching Agents, etc) Regulations 2005 and NAFDAC’s Guidelines for Registration of Imported Cosmetics in Nigeria. According to NAFDAC, exposure to mercury can cause dermatitis and damage to kidneys.

Distribution of mercury-containing creams and soap is also banned in the European Union, North America and in many African countries.

2. Creams Containing Hydroquinone

Drug Name: Creams Containing Hydroquinone

Brand/Trade Names: Peuclaire, Movate, Mercury, Tura, A3, Mic, Looking Good, Ambi, Skin Success, Sivoclaire, Unblemish, Lustra-AF, Sunvanish, Sledgehammer, Pigment, Eldoquin, Epiquin Micro, Lustra, Melanex

Synonyms for Hydroquinone: 1, 4-Benzenediol, Quinol, Benzene-1, 4-diol, Diphenol, p-Dihydroxylbenzene, Hydrochinone, phydroxylphenol, Hydrochinonium, Hydroquinol, and  Tequinol

Under the Cosmetic Product (Prohibition of Bleaching Agents, etc) Regulations, a cosmetic in Nigeria is classified as adulterated if it contains hydroquinone. Hydroquinone is used therapeutically as a topical agent for the treatment of certain skin conditions. NAFDAC initially set an upper limit of 2% hydroquinone content in cosmetic products and 5% for therapeutic use because it was originally believed that only higher concentrations of hydroquinone were unsafe for continued use. However, due to the adverse side effects associated with long-term hydroquinone use and also lack of compliance with content and labeling requirements, all forms of hydroquinone were prohibited in cosmetic toiletries. See: The Schedule [Paragraph 1 (2).] of the Cosmetic Product (Prohibition of Bleaching Agents, etc) Regulations.

Other countries like the United Kingdom, South Africa and the United States also limit the concentration of hydroquinone in cosmetic products to a maximum of 2% and 4% in dermatological preparations.

3. Cosmetic Creams Containing Corticosteroids

NAFDAC’s Guidelines for Registration of Imported Cosmetics in Nigeria specifically bans the sale of cosmetic creams containing corticosteroids (Betamethasone Dipropionate and Clobetasol Propionate) from the Nigerian market in order to ensure public safety. Prolonged use of cosmetics containing corticosteroids on the skin affects the release of hormones that control and stabilize vital functions with very serious or life threatening consequences.

This article is intended to provide general information about the subject matter. Professional legal advice should be sought about specific circumstances.


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About Ufuoma Akpotaire 319 Articles
Ufuoma is a Senior Editor and Director of Regulatory Policy at NLIPW. She assists clients in the protection of copyrights, trademarks and patents. She counsels clients regarding validity and infringement matters and has experience acting against the infringement of IP and addressing counterfeit issues. She holds a Masters degree (LL.M.) from Columbia Law School, New York and a law degree from the University of Nigeria (LL.B. Honors). She is admitted to practice law in Nigeria and in the State of New York. Ufuoma cut her teeth in the intellectual property practice groups of some of the largest law firms in Nigeria and has years of experience working with major non-profit organizations in New York. Email: uakpotaire@nlipw.com