SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued an alert to warn the public not to buy or consume three health products found to contain undeclared western medicinal ingredients that can cause serious adverse reactions.
The three products are Huo Xue Qing Gan Jie and Huang Niu Mu Shi Ni De Jiu Xing, which claim to treat various chronic ailments such as arthritis, diabetes and stroke, as well as Meizitang Botanical Slimming 100% Natural Soft Gel.
All three were either bought overseas or from online platforms, HSA said in a press release on Monday (Feb 25).
A list of ingredients was also not available on their labels, which complementary health products - including Chinese proprietary medicines, traditional medicines and health supplements - are required to carry.
HSA said a man in his 40s was hospitalised for Cushing's syndrome (characterised by "moon face" and upper body obesity with thin limbs), joint paint, weight gain and insomnia after consuming Huo Xue Qing Gan Jie.
The presence of dexamethasone (a potent steroid usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions) and chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine used to relieve allergic reactions like rhinitis) were tested in the product. Dexamethasone could have contributed to the man's condition.
Another man took Huang Niu Mu Shi Nu De Jiu Xing and experienced rapid relief of his joint pain. It was also found to contain dexamethasone.
Meanwhile, Meizitang Botanical Slimming 100% Natural Soft Gel, which is sold online, was tested and found to contain diclofenac, a potent painkiller.
Members of the public who have purchased or are consuming any of the three products are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible, HSA said.
Those taking Huo Xue Qing Gan Jie or Huang Niu Mu Shi Nu De Jiu Xing should not stop taking them immediately as sudden discontinuation of steroids - especially when they have been consumed for more than a few weeks - without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms, such as weakness, fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure.
Consumption of Meizitang Botanical Slimming 100% Natural Soft Gel should stop immediately. Diclofenac can potentially cause serious gastric bleeding, as well as heart attacks and stroke when used for a prolonged period.
HSA also urged the public to visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from dubious sources.
"Be careful when purchasing any health product, especially through the Internet or even from well-meaning friends or relatives," HSA added.
"You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They may be illegal, counterfeit or substandard, and may contain undeclared ingredients which can harm your health."
Sellers who are selling any of these three adulterated health products should stop the sales and distribution of them immediately.
If convicted, offenders face a fine of up to $10,000 and/or jail term of up to two years.
Those with information on the sale of supply of the three products or other illegal products may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.