The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is warning that Melanotan is being sold illegally as an injectable tan on the internet and in some tanning salons and body building gyms.
Possible side effects of the treatment are unknown as it has not been tested for safety, quality or effectiveness.
The product comes in two types – Melanotan I and Melanotan II – which are self-injected and therefore bring risks of cross-contamination and infections.
Melanotan has to be diluted with bacteriostatic water, a prescription-only medicine before self-injection into the skin. Often the product is sold in concentrate state, although some websites offer to reconstitute the product before sending it to the consumer.
David Carter, head of the MHRA’s medicines borderline section, said: ‘We are warning people not to use this product. If you have used either of these products do not use them again.’
If patients have an adverse reaction, they are advised to ask their general practice to complete a yellow card on the reaction to the MHRA.