The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), Ministry of Health (MOH) would like to urge the public to refrain from buying and using several cosmetic products which had been found to contain scheduled poison.
Notification of these cosmetic products has been cancelled by the ministry's senior director of pharmaceutical services following the detection of scheduled poison.
Products containing hydroquinone and tretinoin are classified as pharmaceutical products that require registration with the Drug Control Authority (DCA) and can only be used under the advice of healthcare professionals.
Cosmetic products adulterated with hydroquinone are typically marketed for skin lightening, as well as, to treat blemishes and uneven skin tone. Hydroquinone can cause skin redness, discomfort, skin discolouration and hypersensitivity.
Hydroquinone inhibits the pigmentation process (depigmentation) which reduces the skin’s ability to be protected from harmful UV rays, thus, increasing the risk of skin cancer.
Cosmetic products adulterated with tretinoin are commonly promoted for use in acne and to reduce wrinkles. Preparations containing tretinoin should only be used under the supervision of healthcare professionals.
The unsupervised usage of tretinoin can cause redness to the skin, discomfort, stinging, peeling and sensitivity to sunlight.
Cosmetic products adulterated with mercury can cause harm to human health and they are commonly marketed for skin lightening and anti-aging treatments such as for freckles, blemishes and wrinkles. Exposure to mercury can cause damage to the kidneys and the nervous system. It may also interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children.
Furthermore, exposure to mercury is not only limited to the person using the skin cream containing mercury but also to others, especially children as mercury can get into their bodies from breathing in the mercury vapours.
Infants and children can ingest mercury when they touch the cosmetic products containing mercury or their parents who have used these products. Using products containing mercury can also cause skin rashes, irritation and other changes to the skin.
Vendors and distributors warned
All sellers and distributors are warned to stop sales and distribution of these products immediately. All sellers are reminded that selling or distributing these cosmetic products is an offence under the Control Of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984.
Any individual who commits an offence under these regulations can be fined up to a maximum of RM25,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both, and for a second or subsequent offence, shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years or both. A company found guilty can be fined up to RM50,000 for the first offence and fined up to a maximum of RM100,000 for subsequent offences.
Advisory to public
Consumers are advised to stop using these products and seek further advice from healthcare professionals, if experiencing any unpleasant effects or adverse events.
Source : Noor Hisham Abdullah, director general of health, MOH.