HSA raises alert on products containing banned weight-loss substance and erectile dysfunction medicine that could lead to heart attacks and strokes

Substance allegedly found in slimming products - Coco Curv and Coco Fit - and the sweet called Hamer Candy

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued a warning on Thursday (Aug 6) regarding a hazardous banned substance that is found in two slimming products. 

A medicinal ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction was also found in another product posed as candy. 

HSA said in a media release on Thursday (6 Aug) that Coco Curv and Choco Fit contained potent ingredients including a banned substance, sibutramine, that may pose serious health risks to consumers. 

The product Coco Curv is advertised online as a slimming product which “burn(s) fat and calories, boosts energy and metabolism, and controls carbohydrate craving”. 

When a female consumer bought it in Malaysia, she sensed something was amiss and that the product could be harmful. She then reported it to HSA.

During investigations into Coco Curv, HSA discovered another slimming product online called Choco Fit. 

Tests found that both products contained the banned substance sibutramine. 

The drug is found in prescription medicine to manage weight loss, but it has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

HSA said other serious adverse effects reported by consumers who took products with sibutramine include rapid heartbeat, insomnia, and suicidal thoughts.

Associate Professor Chan Cheng Leng, Group Director of Health Products Regulation Group, HSA, advises consumers: “Do not fall for claims or promises of quick weight loss when purchasing health products, whether they are sold online or in retail shops. Based on HSA’s enforcement operations, many of the weight loss products sold on e-commerce platforms without an established retail presence were found to contain the banned substance, sibutramine.”

A candy contained medicine for erectile dysfunction 

HSA said it was also alerted to another product, Hamer Candy, by a male consumer. 

The product, packaged as a candy, contained a potent ingredient called nortadalafil, which is chemically related to tadalafil. 

Tadalafil is a prescription medicine used to treat male erectile dysfunction, said the authority. 

Inappropriate use of tadalafil without medical supervision may also cause priapism, which is a painful and prolonged erection.

Tadalafil can also pose serious risks to certain patients, including those with heart-related problems. It should not be used by patients who are taking heart medications, such as nitrates, as it can cause serious low blood pressure.

HSA added that the use of nortadalafil may lead to increased risk of serious side effects including low blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

All three products were posted on popular e-commerce sites like Shopee, as well as social media platforms like Facebook.

Both Hamer Candy and Choco Fit had previously been alerted to members of the public by HSA in 2018 and 2019 respectively. 

Online listings of these products were subsequently taken down. 

However, they have recently resurfaced online with new packaging, said HSA. 

This is “a common tactic undertaken by unscrupulous manufacturers in an attempt to evade detection and entice consumers”. 

HSA said it has issued warnings to the sellers and directed the respective website administrators to remove the affected listings.

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