Edward J. Markey, senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, called on the FDA to ban the ‘insecticide’ stating there had been research supporting its toxicity and ineffectiveness in these applications.
Lindane has been used in shampoos and skin lotions for a number of years mainly to treat skin conditions and lice, and also has agricultural applications.
In the US, lindane pesticide products are regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whilst for the lotions and shampoos it is the FDA.
The FDA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continue to support its use despite a number of petitions to halt its use.
However, Markey claims that lindane has been found to cause skin irritation, seizures, and, in rare instances, even death.
Children particularly sensitive
In his letter he states that infants and children are especially sensitive to the health risks posed by pesticides such as lindane because of their developing bodies.
“In the case of lindane, the cure is worse than disease,” said Markey. “There is not a bit of scientific evidence to support the FDA’s decision to continue to allow the use of this toxic chemical for treatment used predominantly on children.”
Markey’s letter also notes that the presence of lindane in treatment products has led to its detection in and contamination of waterways.
He says that officials in Los Angeles found that a single treatment for head lice or scabies contains enough lindane to bring six million gallons of water above the California water quality standard, leading to a state ban.
Lindane shampoos and lotions continue to be available in the US, though since 1995 they have been designated "second-line" treatments, meaning they can only be prescribed when other "first-line" treatments have failed or cannot be used.
In December 2007, the FDA sent a warning letter to Morton Grove Pharmaceuticals, the sole US manufacturer of lindane products, requesting that the company correct misleading information on two of its lindane websites.
The letter said, in part, that the materials "are misleading in that they omit and/or minimize the most serious and important risk information associated with the use of Lindane Shampoo, particularly in pediatric patients; include a misleading dosing claim; and overstate the efficacy of Lindane Shampoo."