Unlicensed tanning pills circumventing regulation

tanning bed tubesHere’s a story for the modern age: despite warnings from the UK government, internet sales of an unlicensed tanning drug are booming. [image by savv]

Melanotan is a synthetic hormone developed by skin cancer researchers that has not been tested for safety, quality or effectiveness. The drug is being sold over the internet and in some tanning salons and bodybuilding gyms. It works by increasing levels of melanin, which is the body’s natural protection from the sun.

Now, it’s no news that people want to take short-cuts to the body (allegedly) beautiful. What is news is the fact that laws and clinical tests can’t keep up with the pace of supply and demand any more; once an idea is out there, someone’s going to see the market potential to make money selling it, and people are going to buy it.

Even when laws or bans are passed, the web effectively negates nation-state boundaries – what’s illegal here in the UK may not be in the Nigeria, for instance. Will controlling the distribution of drugs become as unwinnable a battle as preventing music piracy?

Oh, by the way – the UK government is at least trying to warn of the potential side-effects of the tanning drug:

Melanotan II has also been linked to an increase in libido.

Yeah, that‘ll discourage ’em.

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