Malaysian Health Ministry bans 14 skincare products over safety concerns

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

Malaysian Health Ministry bans 14 skincare products over safety concerns
Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Department (NPRA) has recalled 14 skin care items after they were found to contain potentially harmful ingredients.

The press statement, which was sent from the desk of its Director-General of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Bin Abdullah, warned the public not continue use of the products.

Additionally, Datuk Noor Hisham assured that approval to distribute the products were revoked by the Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services.

NPRA is a division of Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM), the Malaysian Ministry of Health.

Questionable ingredients

Ten products were found to have mercury, including Diamond Gold Day Cream, SYMA Magical Serum and Seputih Melati Night Cream Whitening.

The press statement stressed that mercury is a highly hazardous substance that can cause damage to the kidneys, nervous system, and can even interfere with the development of young children.

Hydroquinone, a controversial ingredient known for its skin-lightening properties, was listed as one of the four ingredients that were flagged, along with hydroquinone and tretinoin.

Datuk Noor Hisham said that products with these ingredients were banned as they could potentially cause effects such as skin irritation and allergies without proper direction.

“Products containing hydroquinone, tretinoin and diphenhydramine are pharmaceutical products that need to be registered with the Drug Control Authority and can only be used under advisement of a health professional,”​ said Datuk Noor Hisham.

Crime and punishment

Retailers and distributors have been warned to stop the sale and supply of the listed products or risk violating the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations of 1984.

Under this act, first time individual offenders can face fines of not more than RM25,000 ($6,000), a conviction of not more than three years, or both.

Subsequent offenders could be slapped with up to RM50,000 ($12,000) worth in fines, face no more than five years in prison, or both.

A company found guilty of violating this law can be fined up to RM50,000 ($12,000)  for the first offence and a maximum of RM100,000 ($24,000) for subsequent offences.

Listing for some of the banned products on e-commerce platforms such as Lazada Malaysia and Shoppee Malaysia have been taken down from the website.

Still on sale

The one item flagged for containing diphenhydramine was Bao Shu Tang Snow Lotus Cream, a skin care product by Bao Fu Ling, a Chinese company known for its medicated camphor cream.

As of October 10, Bao Shu Tang Snow Lotus Cream was still available for sale at 199RM ($48) on Bao Fu Ling’s e-commerce site.

The product description claims that the cream has been used for over 30 years and is formulated with “pure and refined Chinese herbs​” that have been researched by Beijing Baoshutang Sci-tech Pharmaceutical.

The ingredients listed on its webpage included camphor, tea tree oil, sandalwood seed oil, and menthol. It also assures that it is tested in “reputable test labs” and is free of heavy metals and steroids.

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