SINGAPORE: A medicinal ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction was found in two products sold online as candy, Singapore health authorities said on Tuesday (Feb 26).
"Very high levels" of tadalafil, which is used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction, were found in Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a news release.
"The amount of tadalafil was up to 30 times higher than the usual prescribed daily dose," it said.
Members of the public should not purchase or consume both products, it added.
"Consuming such high levels of tadalafil is dangerous and would increase the risk of serious adverse effects, including heart attacks, stroke, vision and hearing loss," HSA said.
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 on heart medications such as nitrates as it can cause potentially life-threatening low blood pressure.
HSA said it was alerted to Hickle by a journalist, while Soloco was detected by customs officers at the Woodlands Checkpoint when a 29-year-old woman tried to bring the product into Singapore.
PRODUCTS ADVERTISED ONLINE AS "100% NATURAL"
Investigations showed that both products were sold on various e-commerce and social media platforms, including Facebook. Both products were also advertised online as “100% natural” and made with a “pure plant formula” with “no side effects”.
“They were also marketed in a manner to mislead consumers into thinking that they were candies, with exaggerated claims to improve cardiovascular and kidney health, diabetic conditions, vitality, fertility and immunity," HSA said.
The agency said it is working with the administrators of the online platforms to remove the product listings.
In 2017, a similar illegal product named Candy B was found to contain tadalafil.
Hickel and Soloco were promoted to be “better than Candy B”. Both products’ contents were packaged individually in attractive wrappers inside tin containers or boxes, HSA said.
Nutritional information and food or quality certification marks, like the UK Food Standards Agency logo and the Good Manufacturing Practice logo, were also printed on the packaging. The packaging for Soloco also included a QR verification code for authenticity checks.
“These characteristics were likely intended to mislead consumers into thinking that the products are safe and of good quality,” said HSA.
It advised consumers to stop taking both products immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell.
Consumers should be wary of health products that promise miraculous effects, carry exaggerated claims, HSA said, adding that such products may contain undeclared potent ingredients or prescription medicines that should be used under medical supervision.
Consumers should also exercise caution when purchasing health products online, especially from unfamiliar websites.
“Anyone can be a seller on these e-commerce platforms. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They may be well-packaged or appear certified to meet international standards, but in fact contain undeclared ingredients which can seriously harm your health,” HSA said.