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Kwabena Ofori-Kwakye*, Isaac Ayensu, Beatrice Akyinah, Samuel Lugrie Kipo,Mariam El Boakye-Gyasi


The aim of the study was to evaluate topical herbal preparations available on the Ghanaian market for the presence of the allopathic topical corticosteroid, dexamethasone. Sixteen herbal topical cream and ointment preparations were sampled and analysed by HPLC for dexamethasone. Seven of the sixteen samples 7/16 (43.75 %) contained dexamethasone at a mean concentration of 654 μg/g (range: 79-1200 μg/g) but the rest of the samples 9/16 (56.25 %) did not contain dexamethasone. The highest amount of dexamethasone was found in THP5 (1200 μg/g) while the lowest was detected in THP12 (79 μg/g). The herbal ingredients in four of the samples 4/16 (25 %) were absent from the product labels. Eight of the topical herbal preparations (50 %) were registered with the statutory medicines regulatory authority in Ghana while the remaining eight samples were unregistered. The study has shown that dexamethasone is increasingly being used fraudulently as an adulterant of topical herbal preparations to boost the therapeutic activity of such preparations. There is the need for enhanced control, monitoring and regulation by the medicines regulatory authorities in Ghana and other Sub-Saharan African countries to stem this growing menace.

Keywords: Dexamethasone, topical herbal preparations, adulteration, topical corticosteroids.

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