HSA warns against two illegal health products

The two are URE Tonic Herbal Traditional (far left), sold by a traditional practitioner in Malaysia; and a facial solution bought online and sold in unlabelled bottles by a beautician.
The two are URE Tonic Herbal Traditional (left), sold by a traditional practitioner in Malaysia; and a facial solution bought online and sold in unlabelled bottles by a beautician.PHOTOS: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

The national regulator for health products has warned sellers not to peddle two health products and cautioned consumers against buying them.

These products were found to have undeclared ingredients that caused two women to suffer adverse reactions after they had used them.

One consumer developed a condition caused by prolonged use of steroids and had complications like pneumonia that required intensive-care treatment.

The other suffered chemical facial burns and had to see a skin specialist, said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in a statement yesterday.

The two products deemed illegal are URE Tonic Herbal Traditional, which was sold by a traditional practitioner in Malaysia; and unlabelled brown bottles of facial solution from a beauty parlour at Dhoby Xchange shopping mall at Dhoby Ghaut.

HSA tests found undeclared Western medicinal ingredients in the products: dexamethasone in the tonic, and hydroquinone and tretinoin in the solution.

A woman in her 50s had taken the tonic daily for more than a year, but ended up experiencing persistent low blood pressure and a weakened immune system that led to pneumonia and sepsis, a life-threatening condition that involves tissue and organ injuries.

She had bought the product from a traditional practitioner in Malaysia. She developed Cushing's syndrome, which is characterised by a round or "moon" face and upper body obesity with thin limbs. It is caused by prolonged consumption of steroids.

She is undergoing outpatient care after being admitted to an intensive care unit for treatment.

The second woman, in her 20s, had visited the Anita iBrow beauty parlour for a make-up session that included the use of a facial solution, RDL Hydroquinone Tretinoin Babyface Solution 3, which the beautician had bought online.

The beautician had poured the solution into two unlabelled brown glass bottles and sold them to the consumer to brighten her skin.

After the customer had used the solution for two to three days, she experienced superficial chemical burns and skin peeling, with her skin darkening, turning red and itchy.

She had to see a skin specialist for treatment.

The authority also warned sellers to stop selling these two products immediately. It said they are illegal products which contain prohibited ingredients.

Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and may be jailed for up to three years and/or fined up to $100,000 if found guilty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2018, with the headline 'HSA warns against two illegal health products'. Print Edition | Subscribe