SINGAPORE - Four people have been hospitalised after consuming health products that contained undeclared ingredients, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 1).
HSA identified the three adulterated products, which are sold in capsule form, as "Snake Powder Capsules", "JC Gold" and "Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian".
Touted as containing herbs and other natural ingredients, the products purported to treat health conditions such as joint pain.
The cases cropped up in July and August this year, and doctors tipped off the authorities.
Two elderly Singapore residents were hospitalised for the metabolic disorder Cushing's syndrome, which causes upper-body obesity, high blood sugar, and the characteristic round "moon" face. They are still receiving medical treatment.
One, a woman in her 60s, had been taking JC Gold for about four months, while the other, a man in his 70s, had been taking Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian for several years.
Snake Powder Capsules, which were the object of a 2005 HSA warning, sent a woman in her 30s to hospital with drug-induced hepatitis. Her father, who is in his 50s, also had to be hospitalised after developing liver injury. They had been taking the product for three weeks. Both have since recovered.
The products, which were purchased in Malaysia, all contained dexamethasone, a potent steroid that can cause Cushing's syndrome. It is usually prescribed for inflammation and its use requires strict medical supervision.
Other undeclared ingredients, which can normally only be supplied with a doctor's prescription, included certain diuretics, antihistamines and antibiotics, which can have adverse effects and interact negatively with other medication.
The sale of illegal health products is punishable under the Health Products Act, Poisons Act, and Medicines Act.
HSA cautioned the public to avoid unfamiliar health products that appear dubious and promise to be cure-alls.
Those who have ingested Snake Powder Capsules, JC Gold or Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian should consult a doctor immediately.