Banned tanning drugs 'sold on North East high streets' - BBC News

Nasal spray
Image caption The sprays contain Melanotan, an unlicensed product

Banned tanning sprays are openly being sold on high streets in the north of England, a BBC investigation has found.

Makers of Xtreme Rapido nasal spray claim it contains Melanotan, a chemical that over-stimulates pigment production and turns skin brown.

As it is an unlicensed medicine while it is not illegal to buy it, it is illegal to market and sell it in UK.

But undercover reporters from the BBC Inside Out programme were able to buy the spray at high street premises.

These included barber shops and beauty salons in County Durham and Tyneside.

The Medical and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said: "Melanotan is not a licensed medicine and therefore its quality and safety has not been tested.

"No information is held on where or how it is made nor what it contains."

'Turn nostrils green'

It added that it had repeatedly taken action to remove it from the market, and would continue to do so.

There have been reports of it causing nausea, heart palpitations, and turning nostrils green.

Dr Jim McVeigh, from Liverpool Health Institute, said: "We don't know how many people are using, we don't know the strength of the products, what is actually in them.

"Taking any substance is a risk but taking [one] when you have no idea of the content or the strength - it's like Russian roulette."

Image caption Glyn Ferris was confronted on his doorstep by a BBC Inside Out reporter

Extreme Health and Beauty Ltd, which markets and supplies the Xtreme sprays, gave its address as Windy Nook in Gateshead, until 2018, when it claimed to move the operation to Spain because it had been "so successful someone complained to the MHRA".

However, when Inside Out ordered some spray from the Spanish website it was posted from a Gateshead address.

The programme managed to track down owner Glyn Ferris.

He admitted he knew it was illegal to sell it in the UK but said: "Well it was a great way to make money because I had a bad time with my business a few years ago."

'Flooded the market'

When asked about it being potentially dangerous, he said: "Well, I've been using it for years."

Referring to claims he made online that demand was "insane" and he had "flooded the market with them" he said: "Well I'm sorry for being good at sales.

"I didn't realise I was actually that good, do you know what I mean?

"And it did escalate it, just went beyond [and] I couldn't even cope."

He then told the programme there would be no further sales.

"The stuff came from China originally...they even ripped me off as well, so I just thought 'Nah, I've had enough'.

"Xtreme is coming completely off it."

You can see more on this story on BBC Inside Out in the North East and Cumbria at 23:45 BST on Monday 7 October 13 March 2019 and afterwards on the iPlayer.


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