A mother of five, who earned €20,000 from giving dangerous and illegal tanning injections which she advertised on Facebook, has been fined at Dublin District Court.
The court heard she earned the money selling Melanotan II injections which are "not for human consumption" and banned in Europe as well as the United States.
Anne Marie McAleer (33), with an address at Bridgeview Apartments, Cloverhill Road, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, was fined €4,000 on Monday after she pleaded guilty to nine counts under the Irish Medicine Board Act for unlawfully importing, advertising and selling Melanotan II injections as well as diet tablets which were also classified as medicinal product.
She was prosecuted by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) which oversees compliance with laws on medicinal products in Ireland.
Prosecution solicitor Ronan O’Neill said each offence carried a maximum 12-month sentence as well as fines of up to €4,000 per charge. He said an investigation began in July 2015, when McAleer’s social media adverts came to the notice of the HPRA. The court heard she was offering Melanotan II which was administered by injection – usually in the abdomen – which has the effect of sparking melanin and results in tanning.
The court heard that this practice was unsafe as only doctors or dentists can administer medicines by injection. One sample vial seized from her home was furnished to the judge and the court heard it was labelled “not for human consumption, for industrial purposes only”.
The court heard that, during a search of her home, empty vials of Melanotan II were found and she had “quite a lucrative business”.
She charged about €50 per vial and her bank accounts showed that over eight months she earned €20,000.
HPRA enforcement officer Niall McCarthy told Judge John Brennan the product Melanotan II was not licensed anywhere in Europe or the USA. It was a public health danger and can cause an increase in mole growth and melanoma.
A package sent from the United States and which was addressed to McAleer was detained at An Post’s mail centre and parcel hub in Portlaoise, Co Laois.
Her home was searched after she was also identified from a Facebook page she used to advertise the treatments.
Pleading for leniency, defence solicitor Geraldine McKenzie said her client, who is expecting her sixth child, now understands ignorance of the law was no defence. She said McAleer did not know what she was doing was illegal which was illustrated by the fact she openly advertised on Facebook. McAleer had used injections on herself and did not know they were dangerous, the court was told. She had no previous convictions.
Fining her, Judge Brennan did not accept she had not noticed the clear warning on the label of the bottle and he said the offence was very serious.