Man hospitalised after consuming illegal health products from local masseur

Black pills in unlabelled plastic bags.
Black pills in unlabelled plastic bags.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Green and white capsules in unlabelled plastic bags.
Green and white capsules in unlabelled plastic bags.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Brown capsules in unlabelled plastic pill pouches.
Brown capsules in unlabelled plastic pill pouches.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
Brown pills in an unlabelled plastic bottle.
Brown pills in an unlabelled plastic bottle.PHOTO: HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY

SINGAPORE - A man in his 20s ended up in the hospital after consuming unlabelled, illegal pills and capsules he obtained from a local traditional masseur for over a year.

The man had obtained the pills from Samsudin Traditional Massager, a business run by a traditional masseur in his 50s, at a Teck Whye Lane residential unit, said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in a press release on Tuesday (Oct 17).

The illegal products were given free to customers after massage sessions, for pain relief or slimming purposes.

HSA officers raided the unit and seized about 6,500 units of black round pills and brown capsules, packed in unlabelled plastic bags and bottles.

It is alerting people not to consume the products, as it has tested them and found undeclared potent Western medicinal ingredients. They include dexamethasone, which is a potent steroid; frusemide, which helps the body get rid of excess fluid; and chlorpheniramine, which is an anti-allergenic pill.

The man in his 20s had developed Cushing's syndrome, a condition caused by prolonged steroids consumption which results in a round or "moon face" appearance, along with upper body obesity and thin limbs.

Purple stretch marks also appeared on his arms, abdomen and thighs, and he gained 20kg in a year.

He claimed the products helped keep his chronic gout condition under control, and that he experienced withdrawal symptoms and was hospitalised when he ran out of them.

He was discharged after receiving treatment.

The traditional masseur is currently assisting HSA with investigations.

Consumers are advised to be cautious when receiving or purchasing health products.

Anyone found guilty of supplying illegal health products can be jailed up to three years, fined up to $100,000, or both.

Anyone with information on the sale and supply of these products may contact HSA's enforcement branch at 6866-3485 during office hours on weekdays, or via e-mail at hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.