17 babies in Spain develop ‘werewolf syndrome’ after drugs mix-up

Spanish health officials have confirmed that 17 new born babies have been diagnosed with so-called "werewolf syndrome" after taking contaminated medication.

17 babies in Spain develop 'werewolf syndrome' after drugs mix-up
Archive image of a case of hypertrichosis, recorded in 1888: By W & D Downey /

The Spanish Agency of Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS) confirmed that the infants developed the rare syndrome hypertrichosis – which is commonly called “werewolf sundrome because it causes excess hair over the body – after being given mislabelled drugs to treat colic.  

The infants were given a preparation of omeprazole, a drug used to treat minor stomach discomfort but the batch was contaminated with minoxidil, a medication for alopecia, according to a statement from AEMPS, which is part of Spain’s Ministry of Health.

A new case was diagnosed on Tuesday bringing the total number of babies with the condition to 17. Ten babies have been affected in Cantabria, four in Andalusia and three in the Valencian region.

“Suddenly my son started growing hair on his forehead, his cheeks, his arms and his legs, even his hands and he developed the eyebrows of a grown man,” Angela Selles, a mother from Granada told El Pais after her son, Uriel, was diagnosed at six-months old.

“It was scary because we didn’t know what was happening to him.”

But health chiefs emphasised that the condition faded after the children stopped the contaminated drugs, although it could take months for the excess hair to fall out naturally.

The mix-up was traced to the Farma-Química Sur pharmaceutical plant in Málaga, where the drug were mislabelled when they were repackaged for distribution in Spain.

The factory is now closed due to “serious breaches detected in drug control standards”, reported El Pais.

Parents who have a preparation for babies containing omeprazole that was bought in Spain should visit their pharmacy to check it is not from a contaminated batch.

Health chiefs advise anyone who notices excessive hair growth after using the drug should visit a doctor, they said.


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Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

Danish Minister for the Interior and Health Sophie Løhde has warned that, despite increasing activity at hospitals, it will be some time before current waiting lists are reduced.

Lengthy waiting times at Danish hospitals not going away yet: minister

The message comes as Løhde was set to meet with officials from regional health authorities on Wednesday to discuss the progress of an acute plan for the Danish health system, launched at the end of last year in an effort to reduce a backlog of waiting times which built up during the coronavirus crisis.

An agreement with regional health authorities on an “acute” spending plan to address the most serious challenges faced by the health services agreed in February, providing 2 billion kroner by the end of 2024.

READ ALSO: What exactly is wrong with the Danish health system?

The national organisation for the health authorities, Danske Regioner, said to newspaper Jyllands-Posten earlier this week that progress on clearing the waiting lists was ahead of schedule.

Some 245,300 operations were completed in the first quarter of this year, 10 percent more than in the same period in 2022 and over the agreed number.

Løhde said that the figures show measures from the acute plan are “beginning to work”.

“It’s positive but even though it suggests that the trend is going the right way, we’re far from our goal and it’s important to keep it up so that we get there,” she said.

“I certainly won’t be satisfied until waiting times are brought down,” she said.

“As long as we are in the process of doing postponed operations, we will unfortunately continue to see a further increase [in waiting times],” Løhde said.

“That’s why it’s crucial that we retain a high activity this year and in 2024,” she added.

Although the government set aside 2 billion kroner in total for the plan, the regional authorities expect the portion of that to be spent in 2023 to run out by the end of the summer. They have therefore asked for some of the 2024 spending to be brought forward.

Løhde is so far reluctant to meet that request according to Jyllands-Posten.