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The Link between Phthalates and Prescription Drugs

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In August, Congress enacted a law banning the phthalates (esters of phthalic acid that are mainly added to plastics to increase their flexibility) in toys and other children’s products. Europe had earlier taken this same action because of the concern that phthalates may cause abnormal reproductive tracts, sperm damage, and reduced testosterone. The CDC has weighed in with body burden studies that shockingly demonstrate that phthalates are found in virtually every human body.

Dr. Russ Hauser, a Harvard professor of environmental epidemiology, has called pharmaceuticals “an unrecognized source of potential high exposure (of phthalates).” Harvard School of Public Health and CDC scientists have listed at least 47 different prescription medications that contain phthalates. A thin layer of phthalate-containing polymer coats many timed-release medications which is designed to slow the release of the drug. The use of phthalates in prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications is approved by the FDA.
While these scientists analyzed a national database of 8000 people, they believe their results suggest millions of people could be at risk. The study was published in the October 2008 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives online.
One of the case studies in the research is a Boston man who took the medication Asacol to treat his inflamed colon. He was found to be contaminated with 100 times more dibutyl phthalate than had ever been recorded in a human being. His situation was identified in an infertility workup for him and his wife as they were unable to conceive.

The approval of the use of phthalates in prescription and over-the-counter medication ignores the potential for high delivered doses of phthalates to vulnerable segments of the population including pregnant women and young children. Please support the efforts of AAHF to reform the FDA signing our petition.

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