The demand for Eridosis, some acne wipes, grew disproportionately in Spanish pharmacies a few months ago, as detected by the General Council of Pharmaceutical Colleges (CGCF) through consultations of numerous apothecaries. It was the immediate reaction to several videos of several influencersof the social networks that add hundreds of thousands of followers and that had recommended this remedy. The problem is that this medicine is an antibiotic that requires a prescription, its publicity to the public is strictly prohibited by law and its indiscriminate use can create health problems.
It is not the only medicine that is recommended on the Internet as if it were a book or a perfume. The pharmacist Guillermo Martín Melgar had been seeing for some time how several of these opinion leaders, especially in the world of fashion and lifestyle, advised his followers of remedies that should be prescribed by health personnel. Last September began collect on your Twitter account all that I found, and the list did not stop growing with this and other drugs: Mupirocin, an ointment that is used for infections; Acyclovir, an antiviral against certain herpes; guidelines on how to take Frenadol so that it does not interfere with sleep; Dercutane, another acne treatment …
The Ministry of Health has already taken action on the matter. Before the complaint of the CGCF, he proceeded to examine the available content. In principle, it has focused on YouTube, which was the first platform from which complaints were received. They sought the promotion of medicines for human use authorized in Spain by third parties other than the pharmaceutical laboratories that sell them. “Confirmed the illegality of these advertising activities, for not complying with the requirements established in Royal Decree 1416/1994, of June 25, which regulates the advertising of medicines for human use […] the platform was required that immediately upon receipt of the communication proceed to withdraw the contents or make access impossible, ”says a Health spokeswoman, who clarifies that since it is a“ general requirement ”, initially No specific videos have been identified.
At the end of December, Google (YouTube owner) replied by showing its willingness to collaborate with the authorities in the removal of content that violates the law. But, as the company has explained to this newspaper, this will happen when they receive specific links, after examining them one by one and finding that they violate the terms and conditions of the platform.
Youtube is not the only site where these contents are promoted. In fact, according to Martín Melgar, where they are most found is on Instagram. The Ministry assures that it will work on the removal of videos on any social network and that it is collaborating with the Councils of Medical and Pharmaceutical Colleges to address the problem. These propose tables that study content to be removed and that help to raise awareness of citizenship and companies.
“With Mupirocin the infection went away in two days [en la oreja] and it was very fat ball […] What else it is with a prescription, it worked for me. It is as if I have angina and my doctor sends me a prescription medication, because obviously I will tell you if there is one that works worse for me than another. In short, more of the same. I pass these shits, I do not care exactly, ”said instagrammer Marta Carriedo in a video before the criticism she received for recommending drugs.
Many of the videos of the influencers, like the previous one, they are no longer available in the networks where they were promoted, either because they have removed them themselves or because they are ephemeral publications that disappear after a few hours online.
Ana López Castedo, of the CGCF, explains that the root of the problem is “the lack of knowledge” of the citizenship and “the banality” that the population gives to the medicine. “Many people think that it is one more consumer product, like clothes or a disc, but it is not that, it is a good of health. We don’t want to criminalize these influencers; sure they do it with good will, but the rules to promote a drug are very strict and should also be followed in the new channels, ”he claims.
Advertising of prescription drugs is prohibited. And those of others are subject to strict regulations: it must be indicated, for example, that it is a drug and that in case of doubt you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. It is something that does not happen with the recommendations of the influencers.
Although the professionals consulted say that, in general, the drugs that promote these trendsetters are not usually very serious for individual health, the misuse of antibiotics can promote microbial resistance, a public health problem that greatly concerns The international community The misuse of antibiotics favors that they cease to have resistance against bacteria, which in the long term harms the person who uses them indiscriminately, since they will no longer be effective and, more generally, the population, since the Medications may lose effectiveness.
“We are allocating a lot of money in campaigns and resources to raise public awareness about the good use of antibiotics, only when they are needed and at the right doses. With videos like these, seen by hundreds of thousands of people, the effort can be in vain, ”López Castedo laments. The World Health Organization’s forecast is that microbial resistance will cause 10 million deaths a year in 2050, more than cancer.
Woman, young, beauty and fashion advisor
All the influencers who have detected both CGCF and Guillermo Martín Melgar respond to the same pattern: they are young women who create content related to fashion. “They are bloggers who recommend everything from clothes to cream, going through medications, usually for beauty,” says Martín Melgar.
“One of the problems is that they don’t accept criticism from professionals. They answer us by insulting or blocking. They have told me that I have no idea, that they talk about what they feel like or that pharmacists are gangsters, ”says this professional. The same is true of Lorea Bagazgoitia, from the Academy of Dermatology: “Once the videos were detected, we tried to correct it, but we found superb answers.”
THE COUNTRY has tried to contact those involved in some of these controversies without receiving a response.
Mupirocin. It is used to treat superficial skin infections such as impetigo, folliculitis and furunculosis. The influencer Marta Carriedo, with more than half a million followers on Instagram, recommended her for an ear infection, unleashing a great controversy among health professionals in social networks.
Homeopathy. The same instagramer was the center of new discussions in the networks after this comment in a video: “I am recovering from cold I had, of flu. In the end, the only thing I have done is to take some envelopes that I had found in Whole Foods Market in the Homeopathy part and with small balls because I don’t like to take antibiotics. ”
Eridosis. They are wipes impregnated with Erythromycin, an antibiotic that is used in acne treatments. Several fashion influencers with hundreds of thousands of followers (María Pombo, Paula Gonu, Carla Wonderland, among others) have recommended it against pimples or pimples. “It’s for when you have a grain like the one I had. I tried a billion things and when I tried this, it was dry the next day, ”Pombo said in a video, with about 1.5 million followers on its networks. Lorea Bagazgoitia, from the Academy of Dermatology explains that it is an insufficient treatment against acne if it is isolated and that it is not indicated for an “indiscriminate” use, but that it has to be prescribed by a professional. “It has made a lot of noise in the networks, but it is not even too effective,” he says.
Dercutane. It is a treatment against acne “very effective, but that requires medical supervision”, explains Bagazgoitia, Carla Barber, a doctor with more than 200,000 followers, recommended it in a video “so that the skin is well and luminous and younger”.
Frenadol. Ana Moya, with more than 300,000 followers ruled to his followers the Frenadol “only at night” for being “stronger than the Orfidal”.