Within the next few years, EpiTan Limited of Melbourne, Australia, hopes to make its tanning drug, Melanotan, available with a prescription.
Melanotan is a synthetic version of the naturally-occurring melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH). MSH stimulates the production of melanin, the pigment produced to protect the skin from the sun.
“That’s why your body does it. It’s a protective device,” Wayne Millen, managing director of EpiTan told LookingFit.com. “If we can make (melanin) at will, then we can control the internal sunscreen, and we can then hopefully control skin damage.”
Clinical trials of Melanotan showed a 20-percent increase of melanin production in those who took the drug, LookingFit.com reported.
Side effects to the drug, which was injected into the body by a needle, included facial flushing, nausea and irritation at the injection site.
Researchers hope to administer the drug as a pill, patch or nasal spray, according to NineMSN.com. Doctors could also insert a “slow-releasing pellet into a person’s arm that would act over a period of about three months,” read the MSN article.
Increasing tanning potential is not the only thing Melanotan has to offer.
Melanotan activates five different chemical systems throughout the body, according to Wired.com. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, appetite suppressor and promotes sexual arousal, the Wired article reported.
“Melanotan is just a glimpse of the coming age of fantasy drugs—pills that will soothe (and, in fact, reinforce) social desires,” Wil McCarthy wrote for Wired. “In the days before tan was cool, overweight, depressed, bald, and impotent were merely descriptive terms, but today in America they’re considered illnesses and are fought back with some $44 billion a year in direct medical expenses—fast approaching the $50 billion we spend battling cancer.”
McCarthy wrote that “Yesterday’s drugs were about need; today’s are about desire.”