The real deal with Glutathione-drips and why a lawmaker is under fire

October 5, 2018 - 5:56 PM
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An independent watchdog on transparency and good moral ethics filed a complaint against Congresswoman Tricia Velaco-Catera for conducting Gluta-drip sessions in her office. (Facebook/Congresswoman Tricia Nicole Velasco-Catera)

A complaint has been filed against MATA party-list representative Tricia Velasco-Catera for allegedly holding Glutathione-drip sessions in her office during working hours by watchdog Pinoy Aksyon for Governance and the Environment.

The complaint did not specifically state if she was the one undergoing the Gluta-drip sessions or if she was providing it to others in her office.

The watchdog, which describes itself as an independent campaign organization that advocates good governance and people’s right to live a balanced ecology, filed a complaint before the Commission on Ethics and Privileges at the House of Representatives.

The group mentioned that they found out about it through pictures. According to them, “Rep. Catera seems to flaunt these unbecoming acts that make a mockery of her duties as a Partylist Representative.”

“Her effort to publicize on several occasions, her obviously personal activities such as Gluta-drip sessions done in her office at the premises of the House of Representatives no less, and during official time when she should be in the performance of official functions,” they added.

Pinoy Aksyon also questioned the safety of the medical procedures, citing that glutathione and vitamin drips are “highly discouraged by many established medical professionals.”

“As a representative of the health sector and Vice Chair of the House Committee on Health, more is expected of her in this regard and she could not be seen as promoting medical practices that may very well endanger the lives and welfare of Filipinos,” they said.

The problem with glutathione drips 

According to the Food and Drug Administration, high amounts of glutathione drips or injections can result in serious medical issues like kidney failure and blood poisoning.

Glutathione is originally an antioxidant produced in the body that is believed to impede melanin production, making the skin pigmentation lighter. It is the main reason why it is used as a skin-whitening ingredient in beauty products.

FDA director Jesusa Joyce Cirunay in May 2011 warned the public that regular injections of the antioxidant can only be administered in people with cancer.

Policemen seized beauty products from the Gluta Spa Aesthetics and Slimming Center that were discovered to be unregistered. (The STAR/Boy Santos)

The government agency released an advisory which reads: “The alarming increase in the unapproved use of glutathione administered intravenously as a skin-whitening agent at very high doses is unsafe and may result in serious consequences to the health of users.”

Repeated injections of glutathione can cause kidney failure, blood poisoning and toxic epidermal necrolysis or the Stevens-Johnson syndrome. The last part refers to the condition of skin peeling itself off in large portions and exposing the victim to several infections.

According to the American Council on Health and Science, such a condition is considered a medical emergency, where the top layer of the skin dies.

Dermatologists and medical professionals in the United States do not use glutathione as a skin-whitening agent.

Dr. Belen Dofitas of the Philippine Dermatological Society explained, “Dermatologists weren’t taught about glutathione as a whitening agent because it is not established (as skin whitener) and their safety profile is also not established.”