Unlicensed product seized in raids
The first UK seizure of a female sanitary product used by teenagers as a way of getting high has been made by health officials.
The product, called Tantum Rosa, is an unlicensed medicine which was found to be on sale in Polish shops in Southampton, Hampshire. The active ingredient is believed to have been used by Polish teenagers and has been linked to a vandalism incident in a local cemetery.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) led the raids on four Polish shops in Southampton on Monday supported by the city council's trading standards department and police.
The first shop targeted, Danio Polish Shop, in St Mary's Road, was found to be selling two packets of Tantum Rosa, a sanitary wipe, for £12.45 for a packet of 10.
Danny Lee-Frost, MHRA head of operations, said: "This is a concern and we take it very seriously. This will be added to the list of products that we are aware of. It is not licensed for sale in the UK and the concern is that anybody picking this up will not know what is in it and what it is used for. If people take it and abuse it, there could be all sorts of problems."
It is understood that local teenagers have been purchasing the Tantum Rosa wipes for their crystallised ingredient called benzydamine hydrochloride which is an anti-inflammatory product.
This ingredient is licensed to be used in other products in the UK including mouthwashes, lozenges, mouthspray and cream. But it is known to be used by people in eastern Europe, Brazil and other countries as a way of getting high.
The sale of Tantum Rosa in Southampton was first discovered by Pc Jim Goodacre, of Hampshire Police, who received reports that packets of the product were found when a local cemetery was vandalised.
He said: "Southampton appears to be the first place in the UK where this product has been misused in this way. The concern is for the medical well-being of people who may misuse this product - we do not know whether there was a link between the use of the product and the criminal damage to the cemetery."
Staff at Danio Polish Shop did not wish to comment following Monday morning's raid. A spokeswoman for the MHRA said that the shop would receive a written warning but could face prosecution if it was found to be continuing to sell unlicensed medication.