PUTRAJAYA: Ozone therapy, which unscrupulous beauty operators have promised could lead to fairer skin and the ability to rejuvenate one's beauty, is now officially banned in Malaysia.
The Health Ministry, announcing this today, said the decision was made following a thorough assessment made on the treatment, its properties, claims and supposed effects.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry, via its Malaysian Health Technology Assessment Section (MaHTAS) , had completed its study on the treatment.
The assessment, he said, revealed that there was zero scientific evidence to support claims of any benefits from the supposed therapy.
Instead, the assessment showed that ozone therapy treatment could lead to severe medical complications.
"Among others, the therapy potentially exposes users to risks of bleeding from the usage of heparin (blood thinning medicine), embolism (blockage of blood vessel from air bubbles), and infection from non-sterile instruments.
"It could also lead to permanent disability resulting from impairment of organs such as the kidneys," he told reporters today.
The decision comes after the New Straits Times, in January, had published a series of reports on 'killer cosmetics.' The reports, which focused on exposing unscrupulous practices by beauty parlours and so-called health spas.
Among the dubious treatments which came under the microscope were ozone therapy, which had even been endorsed by a number of local celebrities.
The very same celebrities later distanced themselves from being associated with the treatments after being informed by NST of the potential danges of ozone therapy.
Dr Subramaniam, meanwhile, said the ministry viewed seriously the ozone therapy business, especially its claims of being able to rejuvenate one's skin and beauty, whiten complexion and slow the ageing process.
Dr Subramaniam also noted that the usage of ozone therapy machines has also never been approved.
"Under the Medical Device Act 2012, the machine is defined as a medical device which must be registered with the Medical Device Act (MDA).
"Therefore, any establishment, manufacturer, importer or distributors who import or place the machines in the Malaysian market need to apply for an establishment licence and register the licence under the Act.
"So far, we haven't received any applications or registrations for such machines in the country," he said.
Dr Subramaniam said the therapy was similar to dialysis treatment, which involves injection into a person's vein and running the blood through the machine.
"Because the process falls under the ambit of medical treatment, hence, it is compulsory for the practice to fulfill every aspect of existing medical laws. Action can be taken against the providers should they fail to comply," he added.
The ministry also found that the therapy was provided in various premises including clinics and beauty salons which are manned by healthcare professionals as well as unqualified personnel.
"These people could be liable to a fine not exceeding RM200,000 or jail time of three years, or both," he added.