SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued an alert on two cosmetic products and a pain relief product that led to poor blood sugar control in a woman who had taken it.
In a statement on Tuesday (March 13), the authority said the products - Herba Saraf, Wonderglow Whitening Specialist Super Ultra Glowing Cream and Tati Skin Care 5 in 1 cosmetic set - had potent undeclared ingredients that could cause serious health problems.
A woman in her 40s had obtained Herba Saraf from a relative in Malaysia who had bought it online. It was marketed as containing herbal ingredients for the relief of pain such as joint pain and migraine, said the HSA in its statement.
After taking it for more than a month for her knee pain, she developed poor sugar control and was diagnosed with impaired glucose tolerance. The condition can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. She stopped taking the medication after suspecting that her condition was caused by the product.
HSA later found out that the product contains dexamethasone, a potent steroid.
Dexamethasone is a prescription-only medication that should be used only under medical supervision as it can result in Cushing's syndrome, increased blood glucose levels leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, muscular and bone disorders, and an increased risk of infections.
Consumers are advised to see a doctor as soon as possible if they have taken Herba Saraf. The sudden discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure.
The two other products flagged by HSA both contained excessively high levels of mercury.
Wonderglow and Tati Skin Care 5 in 1 cosmetics were brought into Singapore from Malaysia by a woman in her 20s who had intended to sell them online, the authority said in its statement. She was detained at the Causeway, and the products were seized.
The authority had alerted the public to stop buying and using the Tati Skin Care 5 in 1 cosmetic set in June and September last year. But the cosmetics set resurfaced online.
Recent tests done by the HSA found that the set's Therapy Cream 1 contained mercury exceeding permissible limits by close to 50,000 times. Therapy Cream 2 in the set was found to contain hydroquinone and tretinoin. Both are potent ingredients to be used only under medical supervision.
HSA also found that Wonderglow, made up of a day and night cream as well as a soap bar, was marketed online as an anti-wrinkle and anti-ageing product and claimed to be able to brighten the skin in "as early as 3 days".
It was also falsely labelled as "100% No Mercury Guaranteed", though the night cream in the set was found to contain very high levels of mercury, exceeding the permissible limits by 7,000 times.
The authority warned consumers to be wary of health products that promise quick and miraculous results or carry exaggerated claims like "100% Safe and Effective".
These may contain potent and prohibited ingredients that can be harmful, or prescription medicines that should be taken only under medical supervision, it said.
Those found guilty of supplying or selling illegal health products may face a fine up to $100,000 or jail term up to three years or both.
Anyone with any information on the sale and supply of these illegal products can contact HSA's Enforcement Branch on 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org