A controversy concerning hydroquinone, a chemical ingredient in some skin whiteners, hit the papers in February. The issue started brewing up when the DOH allegedly restricted the sale of over-the-counter beauty products containing the said chemical. Sec. Romualdez denounced the said reports and dismissed the issue as simply a marketing ploy of competing companies in the beauty cosmetics industry to confuse the buying public.

The issue, however, dragged on with the DOH at the receiving end of more flack from politicians and the media, such as breaking the Pharmacy Law by allowing regulated drugs to be sold without prescription as beauty products.