Health regulators warned people on Monday not to use an injectable tanning drug because its potential side-effects are unknown.
Melanotan, which is available over the Internet and at some salons and gyms, produces a tan in users by boosting the amount of melanin, the body's natural protection from the sun.
However the treatment is unlicensed and tests have not been carried out to see what possible side-effects there are, or how serious they could be, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said.
Side-effects could be dangerous
"We are warning people not to use this product. Don't be fooled into thinking that Melanotan offers a shortcut to a safer and more even tan," said David Carter, Head of the Medicines Borderline Section at the MHRA. "The safety of these products is unknown and they are unlicensed in the UK. The side-effects could be extremely serious."
One user of Melanotan said it required about 10 injections to produce a "nice tan" and a further weekly injection to maintain it. "Now I've started using it and seen the difference it makes, I'll carry on using it until I hear something different," Stacey Boardman told the BBC.
Illicit sales of medicines via the Web are a growing problem since many of the products are counterfeits of dubious quality and potentially dangerous. Last week authorities in nine countries including Britain raided businesses suspected of supplying medicines illegally over the Internet. – (Reuters Health, November 2008)
No such thing as a safe tan