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DOH Issues Warning Against Unauthorised Glutathione and Stem Cell Treatments in the Philippines

DOH Issues Warning Against Unauthorised Glutathione and Stem Cell Treatments in the Philippines

In response to mounting concerns and potential health risks, the Department of Health (DOH) has issued a comprehensive advisory, vigorously cautioning the public about the dangers associated with unauthorised glutathione and stem cell infusions

This pivotal warning follows a tragic incident involving the untimely death of a 39-year-old woman from Quezon City who underwent these skin treatments. Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa emphasises the imperative of adhering to approved procedures and urges the public to choose accredited clinics to safeguard their well-being.

Unauthorised Treatments and FDA Guidelines

Health Secretary Herbosa highlighted that the Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not sanctioned intravenous (IV) glutathione for skin whitening, deeming its use off-label and, consequently, illegal. While subject to regulation, Herbosa advocates for caution regarding stem cell treatments. Herbosa urged the public to opt for accredited clinics to mitigate potential health risks associated with these procedures.

Risk of Unauthorised Procedures

The recent and tragic incident involving the demise of a woman shortly after receiving glutathione and stem cell treatments actively raises severe concerns about the safety of such cosmetic procedures. The victim had chronic kidney disease. Subsequently, she succumbed to anaphylactic shock due to an acute and severe allergic reaction. The shock was actively identified as the immediate cause of death. The FDA’s earlier caution against the use of injectable glutathione for skin lightening actively underscores the potential risks, citing toxic effects on vital organs and the peril of developing Steven-Johnson Syndrome.

FDA Advisory on Injectable Glutathione

In a comprehensive 2019 advisory, the FDA clarified the absence of approval for injectable products for skin lightening. Injectable glutathione is exclusively authorised as an adjunct treatment in cisplatin chemotherapy. The lack of published clinical trials and guidelines detailing proper dosing regimens and treatment durations is a stark reminder of the potential hazards of unauthorised use.

What is Glutathione Injections

Glutathione injections, also known as anti-ageing injections, are understood to reduce the signs of ageing. They are also effective in counteracting the impact of free radicals in the body and averting oxidative stress. You can inject Glutathione directly into the upper thigh muscle, the deltoid muscle in the upper arm, or the gluteal muscle in the upper buttocks. Regularly rotating the injection site is advisable to avoid issues like irritation, redness, and bruising.

Risks and Side Effects

Injectable glutathione for skin lightening exposes individuals to various risks. These include toxic effects on critical organs such as the liver and kidneys. The FDA actively emphasises potential complications, including kidney stone formation, when combined with intravenous Vitamin C, particularly in cases of acidic urine. Additionally, high doses of Vitamin C may actively necessitate hemodialysis in patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.

Long-term Concerns

Beyond immediate risks, the advisory actively raises alarms regarding the conceivable link between glutathione use and long-term skin cancer risk. This consideration adds complexity and underscores the need for meticulous scrutiny of beauty and rejuvenation procedures to ensure public safety.


The DOH’s warning is a reminder for the public to exercise caution when contemplating beauty and rejuvenation treatments. Opting for accredited clinics and adhering to approved procedures becomes paramount. This helps to mitigate the potential risks associated with unauthorised glutathione and stem cell infusions. Public awareness and adherence to FDA guidelines are pivotal in actively preventing further tragedies and ensuring the safety of individuals seeking cosmetic procedures to pursue beauty and well-being.

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