SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued an alert on Tuesday morning (Feb 26) warning people not to purchase or consume two unsafe products - Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy (Soloco).
The HSA statement said that very high levels of tadalafil, an undeclared potent medicinal ingredient used in the treatment of 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 priapism (painful and exceedingly prolonged erections).
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 "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.
In 2017, another illegal product Candy B was also seized and tested by HSA, and found to contain tadalafil.
Hickel and Soloco were promoted to be "better than Candy B".
Both products' contents were packaged individually in attractive wrappers inside tin containers or boxes.
"Nutritional information" and food or quality certification marks like the UK Food Standards Agency logo and the Good Manufacturing Practice logo respectively were also 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 are safe and of good quality, said HSA.
The authority said that it is working with the administrators of the local online platforms to remove the product listings.
It also advised consumers to exercise caution when purchasing 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.