Warning about tanning injections

31st August 2013

A warning has been issued about the dangers of using unlicensed tanning injections and nasal sprays containing Melanotan, available on the internet.

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The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has received 18 reports detailing 74 separate reactions suspected to be side effects linked to the use of the products. These include stomach and heart problems as well as blood and eye disorders. The regulator has closed down 72 websites offering to supply it to UK customers within the last three months, and is continuing to monitor other websites.

Melanotan I, Melanotan II and another Melanotan-based product called Ubertan work by increasing the levels of melanin, the body’s natural protection from the sun and result in tanned skin. None are approved for use in the UK and as unlicensed medicines carry health risks, including possible unknown side effects.

The products can be self-injected which also means there are serious safety issues concerning needle use, such as the dangers of cross-contamination and infections. As well as being sold online, they are being offered to people in gyms, beauty and tanning salons, says the regulator.

Its Senior Policy Advisor for Enforcement, Lynda Scammell, said: “People should not be fooled that this is a shortcut to getting a tan safely. These tanning products have not been approved for use in the UK and there are no guarantees that they are safe, of an acceptable quality or effective in use. They have the potential to cause serious side-effects, as the affects on the body to individual users is unknown." She continued: “If you have suffered any side-effects which you suspect may have been a result of using this product or know anyone who has then please report it to us via our Yellow Card Scheme at If you have bought a Melanotan product or have seen any offered for sale on a website, contact the MHRA on 020 3080 6330 or at [email protected]

The British Association of Dermatologists' Nina Goad said: “It is worrying that people seem to be ignoring the warnings about tanning injections. There are several reports of people’s health suffering as a result of using such products, which illustrates why people should stick with safer ways of getting a tan, such as self tanning lotions. The very fact that it is illegal for sale in the UK should serve as the strongest warning against injecting a substance into your body for which we don’t yet have the full safety data.”

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