HSA issues warning against 'itch-removing capsule' after woman suffers adverse reaction

Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.
Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Outer packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.
Outer packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Outer packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.
Outer packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Inner packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.
Inner packaging of the Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warned the public on Thursday (May 5) to avoid a health product labelled in Chinese as "Hai Leng Hai Beh Herbal Itch Removing Capsule" after a woman who consumed it suffered an adverse reaction.

In a press release, the HSA said the woman, in her 40s, had bought the capsules from a retail store in Malaysia, based on a relative's recommendation, to relieve an itchy skin condition.

While the itchy skin condition improved within a day of taking the capsules, she had rapid weight gain and her face became puffy after the regular consumption of the capsules over a two-month period. She was diagnosed with Cushing's syndrome, a metabolic disorder.

The capsules contained potent medicinal ingredients, namely dexamethasone (a steroid), chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine) and paracetamol (a painkiller), although they were labelled as being 100 per cent herbal.

Dexamethsone is usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions. Long-term unsupervised use can lead to Cushing's syndrome, as well as increased blood glucose levels that cause diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts and muscular and bone disorders.

Chlorpheniramine, which is used for allergic reactions, can cause drowsiness, blurred vision, vomiting and constipation. Paracetamol can also cause rashes and the swelling of the lips or face.

The HSA said sellers should stop the sale and distribution of the capsules immediately. Those caught selling the product may face a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment for a period of up to two years under the Poisons Act if convicted.

The HSA also encouraged people to go to www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying health products from dubious sources.

People who have any information on the sale and supply of the capsules or other illegal products can contact HSA's Enforcement Branch on 6866-3485 during office hours, Monday to Friday.