The function of the Health Products Regulatory Authority (“HPRA”) is to protect and enhance public health and animal health by regulating medicines, medical devices and other health products. The products under the HPRA’s remit include human and veterinary medicines, medical devices, blood and blood components, tissues and cells, organs for transplantation and cosmetics.

The HPRA prosecuted a case earlier this year in relation to unlawful importing, advertising and selling of unauthorised medicine. The accused was fined by the Court after her guilty plea to nine offences under the Irish Medicine Board Act 1995.

The HPRA’s investigation began in 2015 when certain social media advertisements came to the attention of the HPRA. The matter was heard before the Dublin District Court (“the Court”). The Court heard the accused was offering Melanotan II which has the effect of sparking melanin and results in tanning. The Court was informed that Melanotan II injections were “not for human consumption, for industrial purposes only” and were banned in Europe as well as the United States. Melanotan II injections are a public health danger and can cause an increase in mole growth and melanoma. During a search of the accused’s home the HPRA found empty vials of Melanotan II. It is understood that the product comes in powder form and can be mixed with a solution or water, before it is injected. The Court heard this practise was unsafe as only doctors or dentists can administer medicines by injection. The Court heard that the accused charged about €50 per vial and her bank accounts showed that over eight months she earned €20,000.

The Court noted that the accused had no prior convictions but said the offence was very serious. The woman was fined €4,000 for unlawfully importing, advertising and selling Melanotan II injections as well as diet tablets.

The HPRA noted the Court ruling, with Mr John Lynch, Director of Compliance, outlining that the HPRA “continue to warn the public not to buy medicines from unregulated sources. There is no way for consumers to know what substances such products actually contain and consequently they can pose a serious risk to their health.”