Concerns over two drugs available here

It is vital that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), as the vanguard against illegal and dangerous substances, effectively carries out its role in protecting the nation's health.

My attention was recently drawn to two drugs which have been approved by the HSA.

The first is Deanxit, an antidepressant available via prescription.

The active ingredients in Deanxit are flupentixol and melitracen.

According to online reports, this drug is prohibited in its country of origin, Denmark.

It also appears to be banned in a number of countries like Britain, Australia, Canada, Japan, India and the United States .

A check through the US Food and Drug Administration database indicates that Deanxit or its active ingredients are not on its list of approved drug products.

Various reasons that have been cited include its side effects, addictive potential and the fact that there are safer alternatives.

The second drug is Leftose.

This is commonly available off-the-shelf at local pharmacies.

The active ingredient in Leftose is lysozyme hydrochloride.

Biochemically, lysozyme acts to break down bacterial cell walls and this underlies its bactericidal effect.

Lysozyme does not break down mucus.

However, on its packaging, Leftose is claimed to be able to "dissolve mucus", in addition to reducing inflammation.

Furthermore, on the local distributor's website, Leftose is grouped under products described as being able to break down mucus and is recommended for "chesty coughs and sore throats".

I hope that the HSA can provide some clarification on these drugs.

Daniel Ng Peng Keat (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 07, 2015, with the headline 'Concerns over two drugs available here'. Print Edition | Subscribe