Sunday, 1 October 2023

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Health Sciences Authority cracks down on hazardous health products misleadingly marketed as natural

Public warned against consuming hazardous health products sold online

SINGAPORE — The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is urgently warning consumers to avoid purchasing or consuming four health products, following reports of adverse effects from consumers. The products in question are ‘ENRU PLUS+’, ‘HKT HERBA KURUS TRADISI’, ‘PILL HUA LUO CIN TAN 李时珍活络金丹’, and ‘Spinach GINSENG HERB SUGAR’.

Three consumers experienced symptoms including breathlessness, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, severe insomnia, and nausea after consuming ‘ENRU PLUS+’ and ‘HKT HERBA KURUS TRADISI’. These products were marketed online as slimming products, purportedly containing only natural ingredients and labelled as “100% herbal” with “no banned substances”.

However, HSA’s testing of these products revealed high levels of sibutramine, a potent weight loss medicine banned in Singapore since 2010 due to its increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and serious health consequences like heart problems and central nervous system disorders.

A man in his 50s developed symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome, including facial puffiness and abnormal blood cortisol levels, after consuming ‘PILL HUA LUO CIN TAN’ for about a month. The product, which he had purchased for his wrist pain, also caused a relapse of his hepatitis. Tests confirmed it contained potent steroids and a painkiller.

Another product, ‘Spinach GINSENG HERB SUGAR’, was found to contain up to 45 times the usual prescribed daily dose of tadalafil, an erectile dysfunction medicine. This product, marketed for sexual enhancement and packaged as candy, was identified by Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers in a parcel.

The four products were found being sold on multiple local e-commerce platforms, including Shopee, Lazada, Carousell and Qoo10, by sellers based in Singapore and Malaysia. HSA is working with the platform administrators to remove the listings and has issued warnings to the sellers. It has also alerted its Malaysian counterpart about these hazardous products.

HSA is advising consumers to seek medical help if they have been consuming any of these products, and to be cautious about purchasing health products that claim to be 100% herbal or natural, as they could contain harmful ingredients.

They are also advised not to buy products from unknown or unverifiable sources, especially overseas, online, or from friends and relatives, as these products could be manufactured under poor conditions with no quality control.

Sellers and suppliers are being warned to stop selling these products immediately. Failure to comply could lead to prosecution, potential imprisonment of up to two years, and fines of up to S$10,000.

Members of the public with information on the sale and supply of these illegal products are urged to contact HSA’s Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866-3485 during office hours, or email: [email protected].

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