Tainted medicine leaves Spanish children with 'werewolf syndrome'

Tainted medicine leaves Spanish children with 'werewolf syndrome'

Parents in Spain started panicking this summer when 17 children and babies mysteriously came down with hypertrichosis, or "werewolf syndrome", a condition in which their bodies and faces became covered in a dense layer of hair, according to news reports. A later investigation by Spain's Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) revealed that instead of omeprazole, the formula the babies were drinking contained minoxidil, a drug used to stimulate hair growth. "In this case, omeprazole was used because pediatricians can not give the child a small capsule, so if a child has reflux, they ask a pharmacist to prepare an omeprazole syrup for the child", said Manuel Fuentes of the Official College of Pharmacists of Granada.

Fortunately, the symptoms will be reversed once the babies stop taking the medication.

A health ministry spokesman said the 17 children affected so far were in the northern region of Cantabria, Andalusia in the south and Valencia in the east.

The children's symptoms are expected to improve within weeks as the excess hair falls out, parents have been told.

Another mother, who did not disclose her name, said that it was distressing visiting multiple doctors trying to find a solution to her three-month-old son's condition.

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According to Spanish newspaper Granada Hoy, authorities say the issue is confined only to the omeprazole formula and not tablet forms of the drug.

The pharmaceuticals company has a supplier in India and it is reported by Granada Hoy, the contamination was made at source. The problem was when it was divided into small batches that were later also sold in bulk. The affected batch, from lot 11072/10/42, had been recalled.

"When we take [her] out to the park to play, older children and their parents have pointed at her and said things like 'poor thing, she looks like a monkey, '" one mother said, The Telegraph reported.

Hypertrichosis is the term used for the growth of hair on any part of the body in excess of the amount usually present in persons of the same age, race, and sex. Those affected can be born with the condition or develop it later in life.

The only now available treatment for forms of the condition not related to drugs is removing the hair, including by shaving, waxing or performing laser removal on the area. "Being hairy makes me special", Sasuphan told Guinness.