Prescription-strength steroid creams sold without prescription

Although topical steroids with a concentration greater than 0.5% are supposed to be available in the United States only with a prescription, a study reported in <I>JAMA Dermatology</I> finds it alarmingly easy to get them without one.

Although topical steroids with a concentration greater than 0.5% are supposed to be available in the United States only with a prescription, a study reported in JAMA Dermatology finds it alarmingly easy to get them without one. Local shops with a largely foreign clientele may sell them as unregulated OTC products, the researchers found, often marketed as herbal supplements or cosmetic products. Meanwhile, online shoppers can order them from sites such as Amazon and eBay. What Cynthia DeKlotz, MD, and her colleagues at Georgetown University School of Medicine found especially upsetting was the fact that the products—often high in potency—do not warn about potential adverse effects, particularly from extended use. "In our job as doctors, we often focus on treating a disease," she acknowledged, "but we need to take time to ensure our patients are safe and try to make the public aware if a trend is happening on a regular basis." Part of that responsibility, DeKlotz suggests, is reporting potentially dangerous products to FDA.