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Originally published May 1 2009

Aluminum in Medication Patches Causes Severe Skin Burns During MRI Scans

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The FDA has issued an advisory that some medical patches may contain enough aluminum or other metals to cause burns if worn during a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Patches that release small amounts of drugs over longer periods of time are becoming increasingly popular, and are now available by prescription for estrogen therapy, birth control, and the treatment of pain, nausea, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Nicotine patches to help people quit smoking are available over the counter.

According to the FDA, more than 25 percent of the 60 patches on the market use aluminum or other metals as ingredients in the backing that sticks to the skin. It is not possible to tell if a patch contains metal simply by looking at it, as even a clear patch might contain trace amounts.

Yet even trace amounts are enough to conduct electricity and cause burns if worn inside an MRI machine, the FDA warns. After following up on three reports of bad sunburn-like injuries suffered inside MRI machines, the agency determined that not all medication patches carry the appropriate notice that they should be removed before undergoing an MRI.

Therefore, the agency advises patients to tell their doctors about any patches that they use upon scheduling an MRI, so they can be advised when to remove the patch and for how long.

"If there's any uncertainty, just don't wear it in the machine," said Deputy Drug Director Sandra Kweder. "It's just the smart thing to do."

The agency is now reviewing the label of every medical patch on the market to make sure that appropriate warnings are included. Because most patients do not carry drug packaging around with them, however, the FDA also plans to implement a rule requiring that the words "remove before MRI" be printed directly on all relevant patches.

"We have to look at the different configurations of these patches and what's going to be practical to allow for this," Kweder said.

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