A medicine mixup has turned 20 Spanish kids into “werewolves.”
Faulty labelling on packaging led group of children to be given minoxidil, a medication for hair growth, instead of omeprazole to treat gastric reflux.
Even after the families complained it took more than two months for the authorities to realise what had happened, and ordered the recall of all the mis-labelled medicine.
How the laboratory FarmaQuimica Sur, based in Malaga, managed to make the mistake, is not yet clear. The lab has been closed as a precaution.
And two years after the mistake was originally made, some of the children are reportedly still growing excess hair all over their bodies – a condition known as hypertrichosis or “werewolf syndrome.”
The mother of one of the children, interviewed by Spanish TV station Antena 3, complained: “Why does it take more than two months to test medicine? We have been told nothing. I am furious, scared, and feel misunderstood and [shown] a complete lack of empathy”.
The children’s families have filed civil and criminal complaints against a laboratory and several companies responsible for for importing and distributing the drug, as well as against two pharmacies in Cantabria which were later exonerated of blame by a judge.
The families of the children have complained that despite treatment, the hair keeps growing and they demand compensation.
Hypertrichosis is known side-effect of certain medications, as well as being linked to certain medical disorders, such as cancer, anorexia, and hormone imbalances, such as hyperthyroidism.
In the past, people born with severe hypertrichosis, such as the celebrated Alice Elizabeth Doherty and Julia Pastrana, made the best of their affliction by finding work in travelling freak shows.
The condition is not unique to humans – in 2014 a Persian cat named Atchoum was born with hypertrichosis and became a brief internet sensation as ‘the werewolf cat”.