The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has expressed concern at the increasing
reports of the buying and selling of some specially restricted prescription medical preparations that
expose unborn babies to deformities.
In a statement, MCAZ director Richard Rukwata said the buying and selling of specially restricted
preparations, Isotretinoin and Thalidomide has become a cause of concern in the country.“Isotretinoin
and Thalidomide formulation have teratogenic effect when taken by women of childbearing age,” he said.
“A teratogen causes foetal abnormalities resulting in birth defects including death. Isotretinoin has
major effects such as learning disabilities, psychomotor and mental retardation in children exposed
prenatally. Thalidomide was used as a remedy for morning sickness between 1957 and 1961 but
adversely resulted in shortening of proximal limbs in born children. Other effects included damage
to the face, genitalia and internal organs including heart and kidneys. Due to these severe adverse
effects both medicines may only be prescribed by specialists’ practitioners, stored and dispensed
from pharmacy departments of central hospital or other facilities duly authorized to do so by the
Rukwata warned members of the public to avoid buying and selling Isotretinoin and Thalidomide
without first consulting specialist dermatologist or oncologist.
He further urged the public to report to MCAZ if they become aware of any person that would have
procured the two drugs without consulting the relevant specialists as they might be in danger of
exposure.A dermatologist treats skin ailments while an oncologist treats cancer.