A self-tanning drug long available in various incarnations over the Internet has been approved for human trials in the US, Wired reports. “It's a bioabsorbable implant that you just inject into the skin,” says a pharma rep of afamelanotide. “It stimulates melanin production.” The drug made by Clinuvel is being tested for treatment of diseases, not cosmetic purposes, but it could be a big seller in the tanning industry if approved.
“I oppose systemic treatment for cosmetics,” said the company's CEO. Melanotan, the black-market version whose safety is a concern to regulators, emerged in the ‘80s as a tanning method because it can turn pasty skin bronze for weeks. The widespread use of the drug’s unapproved form could challenge Clinuvel, because regulators are loathe to approve a drug already popular for “off-label” treatments.