Melanoma Trust

In Memory of Sharon Rice O’Beirne


Medicines board warns over illegal drug that claims to assist tanning

The Irish Medicines Board has issued a warning against using an unlicensed drug that claims to assist tanning.

Melanotan, which is illegal to supply in the Irish market, is being sold online and imported into Ireland by what the board believes is a relatively small number of people.

The peptide, which has not been approved for use as a medicine in humans, is purported to stimulate tanning by increasing melanin in the body without UV exposure. It was originally developed as a possible prevention for skin cancer.

The medicines board said the product, which is sold as Melanotan I and II, was unavailable in pharmacies and other official channels in Ireland, and is not authorised for sale anywhere in Europe.

Under the Irish Medicines Board Act 1995-2006 it is illegal to supply prescription medication through the internet. Those who buy it online are not breaking the law, but risk the items being seized by the board, which monitors the supply of such medicines.

Among the claims made about Melanotan is that it suppresses appetite and increases libido. The peptide is sold in powder form and is mixed with bacteriostatic water before being injected under the skin.

However, the board tested a sample and found the batch it had been sent contained bacteria that could lead to a serious infection in those who injected the drug.

“There is no evidence that it is safe or effective,” the board said in a statement. “The IMB is advising any consumers who are currently using this product to cease doing so immediately and consult with their pharmacist or doctor.”

Pat O’Mahony, the board’s chief executive, said the safety of medicines bought online could not be guaranteed. Mr O’Mahony warned anyone who was considering buying the drug to reconsider.

“It is unproven; there is no data assessed by the scientific community. There is information that it is dangerous for people, and it is illegal, therefore quality control of it just doesn’t exist.

“They are putting themselves and their health at risk . . . ”

Original Source : Ciara O’Brien | The Irish Times | 27th February 2009.

Filed under : What the Papers Say
By The Irish Times
On 27 February, 2009
At 10:00 am
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