Pricey head lice treatment nothing but common cleanser

An expensive experimental head lice treatment for children has been revealed as nothing more than a common skin cleanser costing as little as $10 a bottle.

The doctor who was selling the product as 'a new class of nontoxic lotions for head lice, was charging $285 for the treatment.

Dr Dale Pearlman received widespread media attention along with some degree of skepticism from experts last year when the journal Pediatrics published his study detailing results with a product he called Nuvo lotion.

He described the lotion as a "dry-on suffocation-based pediculocide" and a first in a new class of nontoxic lotions for head lice.

Pearlman has now admitted, in a letter to the editor of Pediatrics, that the treatment was in fact the cleanser Cetaphil which is available over the counter internationally, and made by a company he has nothing to do with.

According to Leonard Fleck, a Michigan State University medical ethicist, Pearlman's lack of disclosure in the original study made it impossible for other scientists to test his methods.

Pearlman now apparently acknowledges this and admits he wanted to get rich quickly, while also hoping that pharmaceutical companies would offer him money to further develop a Cetaphil-based product for head lice.

When that did not in fact happen, he says he decided to write the letter.

He has not said how many patients had bought the treatment or how much money he has made from it since his study was published.

Pearlman says his treatment should nevertheless still be considered novel because it uses Cetaphil in a new way, with patients applying the lotion and drying it with a hair dryer to suffocate head lice.

Brent Petersen, communications manager for Cetaphil's maker, Galderma Laboratories, has labelled Pearlman's tactics misleading and said the company knew nothing about Pearlman's use of Cetaphil until learning of his letter but are looking into it.

Petersen says Cetaphil's label quite clearly states that it is a skin cleanser and that Galderma has no data confirming or denying that it is an effective head lice treatment.

Pearlman's Web site says the costly treatment is still available but only at his office in Menlo Park, California.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Do the symptom profiles among children with SARS-CoV-2 infection differ by variant type?