London: UK health watchdogs have joined the US in warning the public about the health dangers of an unlicensed injectable tanning drug, knicknamed the “Barbie Drug.”
The drug, which is known by the names Melanotan and Melanotan II is a synthetically-made hormone that stimulate the body to produce melanin, which gives the body a deep natural tan without the sun.
It is most popular with athletes and fitness enthusiasts who prefer not to expose themselves to sun damage.
As well as protection against burning, Melanotan, is also credited with boosting libido and an appetite depressant which hasled to it being nicknamed the ‘Barbie drug’ or ‘paradise pill’.
Despite its popularity, the American-made drug, has never been licensed for public use either in the US or Europe. But it continues to be sold illegally over the internet and in gyms and beauty salsons for up to £250.
In the UK the Medicine and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a warning over the drug because not enough is known about the possible side-effects.
In addition, people injecting themselves run the risk of contracting HIV or other viruses from dirty needles.
David Carter, head of the MHRA unit for ‘borderline’ drugs, said people should not be fooled into thinking it was safer than the sun and warned anyone who had them not to use them again. Anyone who has used them should see a doctor, he said.
“The safety of these products is unknown and they are unlicensed in the UK. The side effects could be extremely serious,” he said.