SINGAPORE - Three products being marketed on e-commerce platforms as weight-loss supplements have been found to contain potent medicinal ingredients.
The products Clinic K and RO Slim Booster both contain sibutramine, a banned substance that could increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, while Rozell Detox contains a potent laxative sennoside.
The public should not purchase or consume these products, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Monday (June 22). It also warned sellers and suppliers to stop selling these illegal products immediately.
HSA had received feedback from consumers that they experienced extreme thirst, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and loss of appetite after consuming Clinic K.
For instance, a woman in her 40s developed symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, breathlessness and dizziness after taking the product for two days. She reduced the dose to half what was recommended and stopped consuming it after five days, but the symptoms persisted for a few weeks.
Clinic K was marketed to be of "safe medical grade" and the "No. 1 clinical weight-loss formula in Korea". It claimed to contain natural ingredients such as amino acids, green tea extract and other botanical extracts.
However, HSA's tests revealed that the product contained high levels of sibutramine.
Sibutramine was previously a prescription-only medicine for weight loss, but has been banned in Singapore since 2010 because it posed an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The level of this ingredient detected in the product was double the maximum daily dose allowed under previous guidelines.
Some marketing materials of Clinic K also included a warning of potential effects such as nausea, dizziness, restlessness and rapid heartbeat due to the product's "caffeine content". Consumers might have believed that the effects are normal and expected when, in fact, some of these effects are associated with sibutramine.
HSA had also been alerted to product reviews of Rozell Detox where some consumers stated that they experienced profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat after consuming the product.
The authority tested Rozell Detox as well as RO Slim Booster, which was sold as an accompanying product.
Sennoside was detected in tests on Rozell Detox, which claimed to contain natural ingredients such as fruit powder and fruit extract. RO Slim Booster, marketed as a diet control product, was found to contain sibutramine.
All three products are sold on e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Carousell and Qoo10, and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
The authority is working with these platforms' local administrators to remove the relevant listings. Shopee told The Straits Times that as of Monday night (June 22), all the relevant listings had been removed.
HSA has also informed Interpol and its Korean counterparts about Clinic K and is working with its Malaysian counterparts regarding Rozell Detox and RO Slim Booster.
Consumers are advised to stop taking these products immediately and to consult a doctor if they are feeling unwell or are concerned about their health, the authority said.
The public should be wary of health products that carry exaggerated claims or deliver unexpectedly quick and miraculous results, HSA added. They should also not trust online product reviews as these testimonials cannot be verified.
People should avoid purchasing health products from unfamiliar sources and exercise caution when purchasing such products online.
There is no quick and easy way to lose weight. Weight control should be achieved through a combination of balanced diet and appropriate exercise, HSA said.
Sellers and suppliers of products with banned and harmful ingredients will be prosecuted. If convicted, they may be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to $10,000.