The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has warned the public to avoid buying and consuming two juice drink products from Malaysia after they were found to have caused serious steroid-induced side effects in at least five people, including a child.
The HSA said yesterday that the two products, Jus Al Sunnah Gold 1001 Khasiat Jus Alternatif and Jus Al Sunnah 1001 Khasiat Jus Alternatif, were tested and found to contain potent medicinal ingredients.
The undeclared ingredients included dexamethasone and prednisolone, which are potent steroids usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions that should only be taken under strict medical supervision, said the HSA.
Long-term unsupervised use of oral steroids can cause Cushing's syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure, the HSA added. Users may also be susceptible to bone disorders and an increased risk of infections and muscle weakness.
Diclofenac, a potent painkiller, was also found in the "Gold" product. It can cause serious gastric bleeding, heart attacks and stroke when used over a prolonged period, especially in patients with underlying heart conditions, the authority said.
Last Saturday, Chinese-language evening daily Shin Min Daily News reported that a 28-year-old woman died in hospital after consuming for about six months a juice drink that contained dexamethasone.
In response to queries, the Singapore Civil Defence Force said that it responded to a call for assistance at 428 Yishun Avenue 11 at around 1.30pm last Friday. A woman in her 20s was taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.
The Straits Times understands that her death has been classified as a coroner's case and her cause of death has yet to be determined by a coroner's inquiry.
The woman, Ms Titinlismawati Sajali, had been taking the drink for pain relief. Her family told Shin Min that she had bought the product in the Geylang Serai area.
Checks by The Straits Times also found that Jus Al Sunnah products were available on the Carousell retail website and were advertised as treatment for various conditions, including body pain, tiredness and gout. The listings have since been removed.
In June, Brunei's Ministry of Health issued a statement banning the import and sale of Jus Al Sunnah products in the country after its tests detected dexamethasone.
On Tuesday, Malaysian Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah also issued a ban on the products. He said that the company listed as the products' producer, Sri Saga Marketing S/B, did not exist.
The HSA advised members of the public to consult a doctor if they are taking the products, as sudden discontinuation of steroids without medical supervision can cause withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure.
The authority also said that sellers must stop sales of the products immediately.