HSA issues alert on 2 unsafe products sold online

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued an alert yesterday warning people not to buy or consume two unsafe products - Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy (Soloco).

The HSA statement said very high levels of tadalafil, an undeclared potent medicinal ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction, were detected in these products.

Inappropriate use of tadalafil without medical supervision will put consumers at increased risk of serious adverse effects such as low blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, and painful and prolonged erections, it added.

HSA said all sellers and suppliers must stop selling the two products immediately. It advised consumers to stop taking the products as well.

The authority was alerted to Hickel by a journalist, while Soloco was detected by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority at the Woodlands Checkpoint when a 29-year-old woman tried to bring the product into Singapore.

Investigations found that both products were being sold on various local e-commerce and social media platforms, including Facebook.

Both products were advertised online as "100% natural" and of "pure plant formula" with "no side effects", said HSA.

"They were also marketed in a manner to mislead consumers into thinking that they were candies, with exaggerated claims to improve cardiovascular and kidney health, diabetic conditions, vitality, fertility and immunity," said the statement.

Very high levels of tadalafil, an undeclared potent ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction, were detected in Soloco (above) and Hickel. PHOTO: HSA

In 2017, another illegal product, Candy B, was seized and tested by HSA, and found to contain tadalafil.

Hickel and Soloco were promoted to be "better than Candy B".

Both products were packaged individually in attractive wrappers inside tin containers or boxes.



"Nutritional information" and food or quality certification marks like the United Kingdom's Food Standards Agency logo and the Good Manufacturing Practice logo were printed on the packaging.

Soloco's packaging also had a QR verification code for authenticity checks.

These characteristics were likely intended to mislead consumers into thinking that the products were safe and of good quality, said HSA.

The authority said it is working with the administrators of the local online platforms to remove the product listings.

It also advised consumers to be cautious when buying health products online, and to be wary of those that promise miraculous effects or carry exaggerated claims.

Anyone convicted of supplying illegal health products may be jailed for up to three years or fined a maximum of $100,000, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 27, 2019, with the headline 'HSA issues alert on 2 unsafe products sold online'. Print Edition | Subscribe