SINGAPORE: The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (Aug 6) issued an alert about two slimming products found to contain a banned substance that could pose serious health risks.
A medicinal ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction was also found in another product sold online as candy, said the authority in a media release.
HSA was alerted to the product Coco Curv by a consumer who had bought it in Malaysia. She suspected that the product could be harmful and reported it to the authority.
Marketed online as a slimming product, Coco Curv claimed to "burn fat and calories", "boost energy and metabolism", as well as "control carbohydrate craving".
During investigations into Coco Curv, HSA came across another slimming product online called Choco Fit.
Tests revealed that both products contained the banned substance sibutramine.
The drug used to be a prescription medicine for weight loss, but 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.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION MEDICINE FOUND IN HAMER CANDY
In the release, HSA said it was also alerted by a consumer to another product Hamer Candy containing a potent ingredient.
The product, packaged as a candy, was found to have nortadalafil, which is chemically related to tadalafil.
Tadalafil is a prescription medicine used to treat male erectile dysfunction, said HSA.
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 added that the use of nortadalafil may lead to increased risk of serious adverse effects including low blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.
Both Hamer Candy and Choco Fit had previously been alerted to members of the public in 2018 and 2019 respectively, said HSA. Online postings of these products were also 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".
All three products were sold on local online platforms including Shopee, Qoo10, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
HSA said it has issued warnings to the sellers and directed the respective website administrators to take down the affected listings.