The so called “Barbie drug”, a stimulating hormone, makes users thinner and browner with an increased sex drive and is illegal in Sweden, though police have noticed an increase in the drug over the past two years.
“We find Melanotan in Stockholm’s nightlife when we look for drugs and growth substances. These people are obsessed with their appearance and will in principle do anything,” said Kristoffer Bohman of the Stockholm police to the Dagens Nyheter newspaper (DN).
While the drug is classified as a medicine, it still has not been approved, as the long-term effects are still unknown.
Short term affects include a lowered appetite, nausea, and changes to the pigments of the skin including darkening of birthmarks. Experts have also suggested that it may also weaken the immune and cardiovascular systems.
The drug is injected with syringes, prompting experts to fear users’ health and safety that may be at risk from the sharing of needles.
One user, a 19-year-old woman who preferred not to be named, told DN about the drug’s popularity amongst her friends.
“Before I tested I spoke to many people who were satisfied with the results they’d seen. I wanted to have an equally brown face to the rest of my body,” she said, adding that she has only heard of two or three cases of serious side effects in all the thirty or so users she knows.
The Swedish Medical Products Agency’s (Läkemedelsverket) has previously issued warnings about the drug.