NewsInvestigations

Pics: Woman sells us banned 'Barbie Doll' tanning drug in car park

The woman who sold us the banned tanning product in a car park
The woman who sold us the banned tanning product in a car park
One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media
One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media

BARBIE Doll drug Melanotan 2 is still being sold on the black market in Ireland despite being banned across Europe and the U.S.

Within a few short hours the Sunday World found two sellers willing to sell bottles of the drug and needles to inject the synthetic hormone.

They were willing to sell even though Dublin woman Anne Marie McAleer was convicted in court last week for illegally selling Melanotan 2.

It is sought after by people who want to sport a bronzed and tanned look without having to spend hours on a sunbed.

One post on social media that went up last weekend read: “Grlz inbox me who wants tan injections coz there nearly gone – Few bottles left.”

 

Melanotan 2

A Sunday World investigator this week replied to the post and was asked: “How many u looking for.”

Told that we “want to go mahogany” she advised: “2 bottles then pal.”

She informed us the two bottles of Melanotan would cost €100 and arrangements were made to meet up to make the purchase.

After a couple of false starts, a meeting went ahead in a retail outlet carpark where everything need to injection the Barbie drug was handed over.

Sitting in the passenger seat of a UK-reg VW Passat she asked: “Do you know how to mix this?”

She was happy to admit that she used Melanotan herself.

 

One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media

Included in the package were 20 syringes, two ampules of sterile water and two bottles of Melanotan 2 powder.

Melanotan 2 can only be injected using needles, which can be dangerous for untrained people. 

Known as the Barbie Doll drug, it is designed to stimulate more melanin in the skin, which gives people a tan. 

After several injections and exposure to the sun or a sunbed session to get started, the skin tone begins to change.

However, there have been no long-term clinical trials and the side-effects of the chemical are unknown.

One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media

Doctors fear it could be very dangerous because it can change the shape and colour of moles and people have reported side-effects from allergic reactions, to dizziness, sickness and acne.

Others have suffered severe infections and scars as the result of not carrying out the injections properly.

Because the drug is bought on the black market there is no sure way of knowing what is actually in the bottle.

However, it is proving to be a lucrative money-spinner for DIY beauty therapists willing to ignore the potential dangers.

One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media

This week it came out in court that Anne Marie McAleer earned €20,000 from giving dangerous and illegal tanning injections, which she advertised on Facebook.

The mother of five was convicted at Dublin District Court and fined €4,000 after she pleaded guilty to nine counts under the Irish Medicine Board Act.

She was prosecuted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which oversees compliance with laws on medicinal products in Ireland.

A prosecution lawyer said an investigation began in July 2015, when the HPRA were alerted to McAleer’s social media adverts.

The practice was described in court as being unsafe as only doctors or dentists are allowed to administer medicine by injection. 

One sample vial seized from McAleer’s Clondalkin home, which was labelled “not for human consumption, for industrial purposes only”, was handed to the judge. 

During a search of her home, empty vials of Melanotan 2 were found and it was discovered she had “quite a lucrative business”.

One of the images used on the page that offered the banned tan product on social media

McAleer charged about €50 per vial and her bank accounts showed that over eight months she earned €20,000.

HPRA enforcement officer Niall McCarthy told Judge John Brennan the product Melanotan 2 was not licensed anywhere in Europe or the US. It was a public health danger and can cause an increase in mole growth and melanoma, he added.

A package sent from the United States and which was addressed to McAleer was seized at An Post’s mail centre in Portlaoise, Co. Laois.

Her home was later searched after she was also identified from a Facebook page which she had used to advertise the treatments.

Pleading for leniency, McAleer’s lawyer said that she is expecting her sixth child and now understands ignorance of the law was no defence. 

She said McAleer did not know what she was doing was illegal, which was obvious by her openly advertising on Facebook.

McAleer had used injections on herself and did not know they were dangerous, the court was told. She had no previous convictions.

Fining her, Judge Brennan did not accept she had not noticed the clear warning on the label of the bottle and he said the offence was very serious.

Anne Marie McAleer (below)