Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Prescription Lice Medication May Do More Harm Than Good

WebMD Health News

Sept. 14, 2000 -- Those pesky head lice. You can spray them neon colors, bathe them in shampoo, or drown them in olive oil. And you can ask your doctor for a prescription for something, if you're feeling really desperate.

But if you're in California, chances are you won't be able to get lindane, a head and body lice medication also known by its former trade name, Kwell. Last week, the state, which often leads the nation in many environmental and health issues, banned lindane because it was fouling California's water supply. The action was also taken because of numerous reports linking lindane to seizures, death, and an increased chance of developing cancer.

The action is being celebrated by some health advocates, and many expect other states to follow California. Supporters of the ban are also pushing for the Environmental Protection Agency to impose a national ban on lindane. Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, began urging the FDA to remove the drug from the market back in 1983.

"Consumers Union tells consumers that if their doctor prescribes lindane -- and many still do -- to throw the prescription slip away," says Elisa Odabashian, senior program and financial manager for the Union's West Coast office. "Lindane is not as good at killing lice as the over-the-counter products. Furthermore, lindane is bad for the environment. It washes down the drain to waste water treatment plants and passes through to downstream creeks, rivers, lakes, and oceans since it is not removed well by the treatment plants. A single treatment of lindane has the potential to pollute six million gallons of water."

The ban "sends a message that there is a price to pay not just for the person who is using lindane; there is a large price that society pays," says Bob Truding, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. Truding is also a scientific advisor to the National Pediculosis Association (NPA), the primary source of information and education about head lice for the past 10 years. Pediculosis is another name for an infestation of head lice.

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration