Glutathione Skin Whitening Injections could Kill, FDA warns


Agence France-Presse-

MANILA – Illegal injections of a cancer-treating chemical pose a risk of death to legions of Filipinos who use them to try to whiten their skin, health authorities warned Tuesday.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspects the drug glutathione is being injected in high doses as a skin-whitener, but said it can cause serious conditions including kidney failure and blood poisoning.

It has issued advice against taking regular injections of the chemical — approved only for treating cancer — because the government suspects licensed skin doctors are among its purveyors, said spokeswoman Jesusa Joyce Cirunay.

“We have been getting reports that they are being administered by people who have experience in injecting medicines,” Cirunay told AFP.

She said the agency had monitored many cases of glutathione use resulting in ailments, but gave no figures.

The agency said that claims had been made that glutathione whitened the skin by deactivating the enzyme tyrosinase, which helps produce melanin, the pigment that gives human skin its colour.

But these claims have been widely disputed, the agency said.

It warned that repeated injections of the drug could lead to kidney failure, blood poisoning and toxic epidermal necrolysis, in which a large portion of the skin peels off, exposing the human body to many infections.

“The alarming increase in the unapproved use of glutathione administered intravenously as a skin-whitening agent at very high doses is unsafe and may result in serious consequences to the health of users,” its advisory said.

The government is gathering evidence that could lead to prosecutions, Cirunay said without giving details.

Skin-whitening treatments and products including soaps,lotions and deodorants are popular in the Philippines and other Asian countries.



  1. For the first few days of its release, glutathione had been branded as a remedy of all sorts and had proven to be an effective marketing pitch for several companies. It's good that skin health crusaders have found evidence that shows the alarming adverse effect of this drug, else, more people would've used it and suffered.

  2. As we know, glutathione is one of the most-hyped health products in Asia. Men and women are now becoming more and more fond of this product because of its effect to the skin. Glutathione injections are also becoming less expensive compared to its price a decade ago. The clinic I usually go to offers different types of glutathione and whitening products which I actually tried several times because I also like the effect.