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May 2022

Risky Melanotan Supplements Promoted Online

There’s growing buzz around melanotan products on social media sites like TikTok. Help educate patients about the dangers associated with this so-called ‘Barbie Drug’, and make sure they understand that it is NOT the same thing as similar-sounding melaTONIN.

Melanotan is a man-made chemical that’s similar to a natural hormone responsible for skin pigmentation. It’s available in two forms, melanotan-I and melanotan-II. Melanotan-I was originally developed to treat certain skin conditions. But now melanotan-II, considered an unapproved drug, is increasingly available in online products marketed as “tanning supplements” due to its ability to increase skin pigmentation. Both melanotan injections and nasal sprays are being promoted by a number of social media influencers. And a quick Google search brings up several claims that it can offer a “flawless tan.”

Make sure patients understand that these products are NOT safe. Emphasize that using melanotan has been linked to cases of rapidly developing melanoma skin cancers and toxicities. Additionally, melanotan injections can cause cramping, nausea, vomiting, and spontaneous penile erections. Furthermore, these products have not been tested by the FDA, nor are they regulated to ensure they contain what they claim to contain. Injecting or inhaling any product without the counsel of a healthcare provider is unsafe. Regardless of what they may read online, tell patients to steer clear.

Check out our melanotan monograph to learn more.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2022 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.