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Reminder of serious health risks with ‘Melanotan 2’ self-tan products

By Irish Pharmacist - 04th Sep 2023

Data shows large increase in online listings of dangerous and illegal substance targeting younger people

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has reminded the public that the unregulated substance Melanotan 2 is not safe for use and may cause serious, long-term damage to your health. Often described as a self-tanning aid, the product is also referred to as Melanotan, Melanotan II or MT2. It is commonly sold as an injectable powder or in the form of drops and nasal sprays.

The HPRA is also concerned that products containing Melanotan 2 are increasingly being targeted towards young people by using bright colours, flavours, and branding. The HPRA will take action against individuals using social media and e-commerce to advertise and supply Melanotan 2 containing products, including the removal of content and accounts, and prosecution activity when there is significant risk to public health.

In this regard, the HPRA continues to engage with e-commerce and social media platforms with the goal of limiting the sale and promotion of these untested products.

What are the risks of Melanotan 2?


According to Grainne Power, Director of Compliance with the HPRA, this substance continues to be advertised for cosmetic purposes online despite known side effects. To protect the public, the HPRA works to remove these advertisements with a focus on stemming the supply of Melanotan 2. It is also important to raise awareness and inform people of the dangers of using this product.

“A substance like Melanotan 2 poses a threat to somebody’s health. There is no safety data to support its use, with no guarantees as to its quality, safety or effectiveness. If products advertised online seem too good
to be true, it is likely that they are. Serious side effects of taking Melanotan 2 include the development of new moles, darkening of existing moles and freckles, potential loss of vision, muscle tremors, stroke and anaphylaxis,” said Ms Power.

Unauthorised Product

Consumers should be aware that Melanotan 2 is not authorised by the HPRA or any medicines regulator to treat any condition. Despite how it may be presented, it is not a cosmetic product. The HPRA advises anybody using Melanotan 2 to stop using it immediately and to contact medical professionals regarding potential health concerns.

Ms Power continued: “As it is intended to be inhaled or injected, it cannot be classified as a cosmetic because it results in an action within your body. We urge consumers to carefully consider and question both what they are seeing online and the motivation of the individuals who profit from the sale and promotion of this substance. There are no legitimate suppliers of Melanotan 2 and those that do so illegally do not have your best interests or your health in mind. Taking this product simply puts your health at risk.”

Social media promotion

The HPRA has noted a marked increase in activity on social media illegally advertising the sale and promotion of Melanotan 2 products.

Between July 2022 and June 2023, the HPRA has removed more than 500 social media or e-commerce listings relating to Melanotan 2. This is a noticeable escalation in activity when compared to a combined total of less than 500 listings removed across the previous two years.

What can you do

Members of the public can report suspicious activities around the supply of Melanotan 2 and other health products to the HPRA, in confidence, by emailing reportacase@hpra.ie or by calling 01 634 3871 or 01 634 3431.

Further information for consumers on the dangers of purchasing medicines online is available here.

Additional information relating to the dangers of using Melanotan 2 is available in the corresponding HPRA safety notice.

The HPRA’s advice to anyone using Melanotan 2 is to stop immediately. If you are concerned that you have experienced ill effects from using Melanotan 2, we recommend you speak to a medical professional.

You can also use our online form to report such effects to the HPRA.

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