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Hypersensitivity and allergy

Hair dye allergy test is first to be switched from prescription only

The first allergy test for hair dye to be formally reclassified from a prescription-only medicine (POM) to a general sale list (GSL) medicine has been switched, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has announced.

Patients will now be able to buy a medical screening test patch over the counter to see if they are allergic to paraphenylenediamine (PPD) — one of the most common ingredients in hair dye.

The test comprises two patches: an active one containing 65 micrograms of PPD and a control with no PPD.

In its response to a consultation on switching the test’s classification, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society supported the test’s switch to GSL.

“Hair colourants are widely available; as such, a test to check for a potential allergy to a common ingredient in hair colourants would be welcomed,” it said in its response to the consultation, which closed in November 2018.

However, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) argued that the test should be a Pharmacy (P) medicine.

In its response to the consultation, the NPA said providing the test in this way, under pharmacy supervision, “might lead to an increase and/or earlier diagnosis of potential undiagnosed skin conditions, which would lead to immediate advice and treatment”. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206897

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