The U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA ) has issued a warning about the dangers of unlicensed tanning injections and nasal sprays that contain Melanotan. The agency has reportedly received 18 reports detailing 74 separate reactions, including stomach and heart problems and blood and eye disorders, suspected to be side effects linked to use of the compound. The products—Melanotan I, Melanotan II and Ubertan— are sold in gyms, beauty and tanning salons and through the Internet, and purportedly work by increasing the levels of melanin, the body’s natural protection from the sun.

Stating that people “need to be wary,” MHRA Senior Policy Advisor Lynda Scammell said, “these tanning products have not been approved for use in the UK and there are no guarantees that they are safe, of an acceptable quality or effective in use. They have the potential to cause serious side-effects.” The agency also warned that because the products can be self-injected, they carry the risk of cross-contamination and infection.

Within the last three months, MHRA has shut down 72 Websites that supply Melanotan and reports that it will continue to monitor the situation. A British Association of Dermatologists spokesperson noted that “The very fact that it is illegal for sale in the UK should serve as the strongest warning against injecting a substance into your body for which we don’t yet have the full safety data.” See MHRA News Release, August 29, 2013.