# MCAZ Warns Against Buying Cancer Medicines That Cause Birth Defects
The Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) has issued a warning to Zimbabweans against buying two medicines used to treat cancer, as they can cause birth defects. MCAZ director Richard Rukwata identified the drugs as Isotretinoin and Thalidomide, which have teratogenic effects when taken by women of childbearing age. 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.
## The Two Dangerous Formulations
Isotretinoin, also known as 13-cis-retinoic acid and sold under the brand name Accutane among others, is a medication primarily used to treat severe acne. It is also used to prevent certain skin cancers. Thalidomide, sold under the brand names Contergan and Thalomid among others, is an oral medication used to treat a number of cancers, graft-versus-host disease, and many skin disorders.
## Severe Adverse Effects
According to Rukwata, other effects included damage to the face, genitalia, and internal organs including heart and kidney. Due to these severe adverse effects, both medicines may only be prescribed by specialist practitioners, stored and dispensed from pharmacy departments of central hospitals or other facilities duly authorized to do so by the medical body.
## MCAZ’s Advice to the Public
MCAZ is strongly advising members of the public against buying and selling Isotretinoin and Thalidomide without first consulting a specialist dermatologist or oncologist respectively. If a member of the public procured any of the two medicines without consulting a specialist dermatologist or oncologist, they are required to report to the Authority for assistance as they may be at risk. MCAZ is mandated to protect public health by enforcing the Medicines and Allied Substances Control Act (MASCA) and other relevant regulations.
## Related Topics
– Cancer treatment
– Birth defects
– Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ)