The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) yesterday warned the public against buying or consuming two slimming products sold online - Nuvitra and BeColi.
The products pose a serious health risk, as they were found to contain a banned substance called sibutramine and potent laxatives, HSA said in a statement.
Nuvitra and BeColi were marketed online by NKD Singapore as slimming supplements, with claims that weight loss could be achieved within a short period of time.
HSA added that Nuvitra, also known as Nuvitra King Diet, was sold on various local online platforms by other sellers.
The authority has since directed NKD to stop the sale of the two products, and the online platforms' administrators have also been told to remove their Web listings. The firm is assisting HSA in its investigations.
Sibutramine, which was found in both products, was previously available in Singapore as a prescription-only weight loss drug, but it was withdrawn in 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Other adverse effects associated with the use of sibutramine include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, hallucinations and mood swings.
Previously, HSA had received reports on consumers experiencing serious effects, such as hallucinations, palpitations and breathlessness after consuming slimming products with sibutramine.
Tests by HSA showed Nuvitra contained sennosides, while BeColi had both sennosides and bisacodyl.
These two substances are laxatives used for the relief of constipation, which may have adverse effects such as nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Prolonged use may cause watery diarrhoea and lead to fluid and electrolyte abnormalities, as well as colonic atony, where a lack of muscle strength in the large intestines may result in chronic constipation.
HSA advised consumers who have bought Nuvitra or BeColi to stop taking them immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell.
Consumers should also be wary of health products that promise quick and miraculous weight loss. Such products may contain prescription medicines which should be taken only under medical supervision, or undeclared potent or banned ingredients that may seriously harm your health, HSA said.
Online product reviews, which often cannot be verified, should also not be trusted, it added. "Anyone can be a seller on these e-commerce platforms. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made," HSA said.
It has ordered all sellers and suppliers to stop selling Nuvitra and BeColi immediately. Anyone convicted of selling illegal health products may be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $100,000.
The public can contact HSA's enforcement branch on 6866-3485 during office hours or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any information on the sale and supply of illegal products.