The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has warned the public to avoid buying or consuming three health products.
It said yesterday that two of these products, Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng and Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream, have caused consumers to develop adverse reactions, while the third product, Impactra, contains dangerously high levels of a potent medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction.
Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng was sold in medical halls in Malaysia, Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream was sold on Perliere's website and other e-commerce platforms, and Impactra was sold on Gold Tree's website and other e-commerce platforms.
A man in his 50s developed abnormal blood cortisol levels after long-term consumption of Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng bought in Malaysia.
Tests by the HSA detected two medicinal ingredients: chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine; and dexamethasone, a potent steroid.
Dexamethasone can be obtained through only a doctor's prescription, while chlorpheniramine should be obtained from a doctor or pharmacist. Long-term unsupervised use of steroids like dexamethasone can cause increased blood glucose levels, which may lead to diabetes, Cushing's syndrome (characterised by a round or "moon" face appearance and upper body obesity with thin limbs), and other serious adverse effects.
A woman in her 30s developed redness, extreme itchiness and a burning sensation after she stopped using Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream.
She had bought the product online and used it for more than two years.
Tests by the HSA detected four medicinal ingredients: trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole, which are antibiotics; ketoconazole, an anti-fungal medicine; and clobetasol propionate, a potent steroid.
These ingredients can pose serious health risks if used without medical supervision. The woman's skin specialist confirmed that she had developed steroid withdrawal symptoms.
Meanwhile, the HSA found high levels of male erectile dysfunction medicines in Impactra. It was found to contain prescription medicines used to treat male erectile dysfunction.
The HSA has directed the companies selling Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream and Impactra to stop selling the products and is also working with local e-commerce website administrators to take down affected postings. The agency also advised consumers as follows:
•As Tian Ma Tu Chung Seven Leave Ginseng and Perliere Mimi Pearl Cream contain a potent steroid. Consumers who have taken these products should see a doctor as soon as possible. Discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure.
• Consumers should stop taking Impactra immediately and consult a doctor if they are feeling unwell or concerned about their health.
• Be wary of health products that promise or produce quick and miraculous effects, or carry exaggerated claims.
• Avoid buying health products from unfamiliar sources and be cautious when buying such products online.
Those selling or supplying the products must stop immediately as it is illegal to sell complementary health products containing potent medicinal ingredients or banned substances.
Anyone convicted of doing so can be jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $100,000.