Spain: 17 children with "werewolf syndrome" because of mislabelled drug

In Spain, 17 children started developing a very abnormal hair after taking a drug sold as omeprazole, a molecule used against gastric reflux. It was actually a treatment against hair loss.

We are talking about "werewolf children". In Spain, at least 17 children, including babies, have seen hair grow all over their bodies and faces after taking a mislabelled medicine, the Health Ministry announced on Wednesday (August 28th). Scientifically, this affliction is called hypertrichosis.

It was in June that the case broke out. Constant that their children developed a very abnormal hair after taking a drug sold as omeprazole, a molecule used against gastric reflux, parents inform the authorities concerned. "Suddenly, my son started having hair on his forehead, cheeks, arms and legs, and even his hands, and he developed the eyebrows of an adult man (...) It was scary because we did not know what was happening to her, "says Angela Selles, the mother of one of the affected children, to the local newspaper. El Pais.

In all, 17 cases of "werewolf syndrome" are reported in the country, distributed in Cantabria (north), Andalusia (south) and in the region of Valencia (east). An investigation is opened. The authorities then discovered that the medicine boxes had been mislabeled: they actually contained minoxidil, used against hair loss, is explained in an official statement. "This medicine was introduced in a package labeled omeprazole" by mistake, says Health Minister Maria Luisa Carcedo. The mistake comes from the FarmaQuimica Sur laboratory, based in Malaga. It remains to determine how it could have occurred.

The laboratory closed "by precaution"

In the meantime, no need to panic, say the authorities. In fact, the symptoms of affected children began to disappear as soon as they stopped taking the offending medication. However, it may take a few months before everything is back to normal. At the same time, the treatment was removed from pharmacies while the laboratory was closed "as a precaution". The newspaper El Pais refers to "serious violations of drug control standards".

Finally, the health authorities advise parents who have bought a baby formula containing omeprazole in Spain to go to their pharmacy to check that it does not come from a contaminated lot. People who notice excessive hair growth after taking this medication are advised to see a doctor.

Spectacular cases

In the medical literature, the facts of hypertrichosis identified are few but report spectacular cases, some people with the face completely covered with hair. So much so that some even think that these patients would have given birth to the myth of the werewolf.

This disease, not to be confused with hirsutism, which is characterized by the appearance of normal male hair type in women, is the manifestation of hormonal imbalance. From birth, it is moderate to severe and progressively increases during the first twenty years of life of the patient. Hormonal treatments may, however, mitigate its manifestation.

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