SINGAPORE: Two weight loss products - Anyang Herbal Blue and Anyang Herbal Red - were found to contain "very high levels" of a banned substance, sibutramine, even though they were labelled as containing "100 per cent natural ingredients", the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Monday (Mar 6).
The products were sold online and through direct selling, but HSA has warned the public not to purchase or consume these products.
Sibutramine was previously available as a prescription-only weight loss drug, but was banned in Singapore in 2010 over serious adverse effects such as an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Other possible effects include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, hallucinations and mood swings, the agency said.
It added that Anyang Herbal Blue was touted to have no side effects, but a female consumer in her late 20s complained of heart palpitations, nausea, trembling of hands and legs, sweating, insomnia and hallucinations after taking it.
Anyang Herbal Red was also found to contain undeclared potent Western medicines such as diclofenac and phenolphthalein, in addition to sibutramine. Diclofenac is a potent painkiller and may potentially cause serious gastric bleeding, heart attacks and strokes, while phenolphthalein was used as a laxative in the past and may cause rashes, abdominal cramps, breathing difficulties and kidney disorders, and has been found in animal studies to be associated with cancer, HSA said.
Investigations showed that the seller was Jessie Cosmetics and the products were sold on a social media platform and directly to her friends. Authorities have ordered the seller to cease sales of the product, and the seller is now assisting in HSA's investigations.
HSA is also working with its overseas counterparts to remove the affected posting, it told Channel NewsAsia.
Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to three years, fined up to S$100,000 or both.