The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) are urging the public against the purchase and use of three cosmetic products, all of which have been identified to contain scheduled poisons.

According to Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the three products are Tati Skincare Night Cream, Tati Skincare Treatment Cream and Moleek Anti Pigment Cream. The first named product is found to be adulterated with mercury, while the second and third products contain hydroquinone and tretinoin.

Products containing scheduled poisons can be hazardous

Products containing hydroquinone and tretinoin must be registered with the Drug Control Authority (DCA) and should only be used under the advice and supervision of a healthcare professional said Noor Hisham.

He explained that cosmetic products containing hydroquinone can lead to redness of skin, discomfort, discolouration as well as hypersensitivity. Due to its bleaching properties, hydroquinone can also inhibit the skin’s pigmentation process, inadvertently reducing the skin’s protective abilities against harmful UV rays and increases the risk of skin cancer.

Meanwhile, unsupervised use of tretinoin, which is often promoted for treatment of acne and wrinkles, can lead to skin redness, discomfort, stinging sensations, skin peeling and sensitivity to sunlight.

Moleek Anti Pigment Cream is one of the three cosmetic products with scheduled poisons. Photo credit:
Moleek Anti Pigment Cream is one of the three cosmetic products with scheduled poisons. Photo credit:

Noor Hisham further warned that exposure to mercury could lead to damage to the renal and nervous systems.

“It may also interfere with the development of the brain in unborn babies and infants,” he said, adding that use of products containing mercury can cause rash, skin irritation and other changes to the skin.

Consumers have been advised to immediately cease use of these products and to seek treatment from healthcare professionals should they experience any side effects.

Health Ministry striving to strengthen regulations

Unfortunately, the sale of unregistered cosmetic products is widespread in Malaysia. Just two weeks ago, authorities from the MOH identified eight cosmetic products found to contain scheduled poisons that could be hazardous to health if used without professional supervision.

In a move to clamp down the online beauty industry that has been selling illegal and unregistered cosmetics, the Health Ministry established a Cyberforensic Division earlier this year.

"The cyberforensic team will come out with profiles of those using social media to sell illegal cosmetics, including the injectable kind. They will also zero in on these sellers' contact details and bank accounts," said a source from the Health Ministry.

The MOH and the NPRA have also continuously warned the public against the purchase and use of unregistered products, urging consumers to be vigilant when using skincare or other health products. Noor Hisham also proposed earlier this year that the three acts that govern the sale of cosmetic products, namely the Poisons Act 1952, Sales of Drug Act 1952 and Medicines (Advertisement and Sale) Act 1956, be amended to improve regulations.

"Among the proposed amendments are the introduction of compounds, an increase in penalties and the strengthening of certain regulations," Noor Hisham said at the time.

Presently, individuals found violating the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984 can be fined a maximum of RM25,000 or serve a jail term no more than three years, or both. Subsequent offenders may be fined a maximum of RM50,000 or sentenced to prison no more than five years, or both. MIMS

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