HSA's alert against two illegal weight loss products: A look at other cases

SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is alerting the public about two illegal weight loss products. Two people who took the products suffered hallucinations and acute kidney failure, said a statement on Wednesday morning.

One product, Nutri Drops Grapefruit Diet, was labelled as containing natural ingredients. But HSA's testing found that it contained "potent, undeclared chemical ingredients" such as the weight loss drug sibutramine. Sibutramine has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to serious safety concerns about its effects on the heart and circulatory system. Its possible effects include high blood pressure and heart attacks. The product also contained phenolphthalein, which may cause rashes, abdominal cramps, bone pain, difficulty in breathing and kidney disorders.

Nutrex Research Adipodex, marketed online as a dietary supplement, was labelled as containing yohimbine, a potent medicinal ingredient that is not allowed in supplements sold in Singapore, and is only for use "under strict medical supervision".

We look back at more cases of illegal pills from The Straits Times archives:

Taking medicine illegally sold online can kill you

This article was first published on Nov 30, 2014.

Online shopping for medical products such as contraceptives, contact lenses, sex drugs and slimming pills is a growing public health concern in Singapore, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) says.

Illegal sellers are finding customers easily over social networking platforms like Facebook and Instagram as well as through blogs, forums and other websites. Read more here


Woman dies after taking slimming pills bought online

This article was first published on Dec 1, 2012.

SHE had been warned by her doctor not to buy dubious weight-loss pills online. And on discovering sachets of yellow capsules in parcels that were delivered to her daughter, her mother repeatedly threw them away.

Despite all the efforts to stop her, Ms Grace Yu Jing Ni continued to take the pills, and paid for it with her life. Read more here


Woman who took herbal pills dies waiting for liver

This article was first published on Dec 21, 2010.

MADAM K. H. Leong died in hospital on Sunday, waiting for a new liver that never came. 

She suffered acute liver failure earlier this month after taking illegal herbal pain-relieving pills for at least eight months, till July this year. Read more here


Pills land two in hospital

This article was first published on June 26, 2008

Popping slimming pills bought over the Internet landed two people here in hospital after the drug sent their hearts racing, and brought on hallucinations, confusion and anxiety. 

The pills, labelled as Relacore, were supposed to be herbal but contained a prescription drug called sibutramine, which suppresses appetite and is used to treat obesity. Users were instructed to take two pills daily. This amounted to 24mg of sibutramine – much higher than the recommended maximum dose of 15mg a day for obese patients under medical treatment. Read more here


Slim 10 death: What if she'd gone public earlier?

This article was first published on June 3, 2002.

To the end, Miss Selvarani Raja insisted on privacy.

Following her expressed wishes, fewer than 40 family members, relatives and friends were present yesterday when the last rites were performed at her home in Block 107, Simei Street 1. 

Her cousin, businessman J.P. Jason, felt this desire to avoid the public eye probably doomed her. Read more here 


Andrea home, with a new lease of life

This article was first published on May 22, 2002.

ANDREA De Cruz's opening sentence at her first public appearance yesterday was: 'I have a new lease of life.'

Then, the 27-year-old TV artiste broke down and cried, as her fiance Pierre Png, 29, handed her a small yellow handkerchief.

De Cruz and Png were discharged from Gleneagles hospital yesterday, a fortnight after a historic 12-hour liver-transplant operation that saved her life. Read more here