SINGAPORE: Members of the public have been warned against purchasing or consuming two products found to have "potent medicinal ingredients", the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a press release on Wednesday (May 27).
They include a product called Lung Tan Tsao, which caused adverse effects in a woman who took it, and a product called Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power, which was found to contain more than 50 times the usual daily dose of erectile dysfunction medicine tadalafil.
Both products originated overseas and have not been detected for sale in Singapore, according to HSA.
The first product, Lung Tan Tsao, caused weight gain and swelling of the face in a woman in her 40s, who got the product from a friend who bought it in Malaysia, said HSA.
The product was labelled for the relief of various conditions including eczema, allergies and pain.
However, the woman's doctor became suspicious of the product as "it cleared the woman's eczema as rapidly as a prescription medicine would do", said HSA.
Subsequent tests revealed antihistamine, chlorpheniramine and a steroid called dexamethasone in the product.
"These potent medicinal ingredients can cause serious adverse effects when used without medical supervision," said HSA.
Chlorpheniramine is used to relieve allergic reactions such as hives and asthma. Possible adverse effects include nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
Dexamethasone, a steroid, is usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions and should only be used under strict medical supervision.
"Long-term unsupervised use of steroids can cause serious adverse effects including increased blood glucose levels, which may lead to diabetes and Cushing’s syndrome," HSA said.
ERECTILE DYSFUNCTION MEDICINE FOUND IN COFFEE PRODUCT
The other product, Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power, was brought to HSA's attention after Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officers found 15 boxes of it in a parcel and referred the case to HSA for further investigation.
The product, which was labelled a "superfood" and "fountain of youth", claimed to contain known herbal ingredients such as tongkat ali extract, sky fruit extract and maca powder.
Its packaging also carried Good Manufacturing Practice and NSF International logos.
However when HSA tested the product, it was found to contain more than 50 times the usual daily dose of tadalafil, an erectile dysfunction medicine.
Tadalafil can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack if used without medical supervision, said HSA.
The misuse of quality certification logos on the product also "aimed to mislead consumers" into thinking that the product is safe and manufactured under high quality standards, said HSA, but there is no way of verifying if these logos are authentic.
HSA added that illegal and adulterated products such as Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power can often resurface under a different name or packaging to evade authority checks and trick consumers into buying them.
In September 2017, HSA had previously alerted the public to a similar product named Candy B+ Complex, which was also tested to contain tadalafil.
Both products were labelled under the same manufacturer, California Pure.
HSA warned it would not hesitate to take action if Lung Tan Tsao and Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power surface on local e-commerce platforms or are found in physical premises.
This includes working with website administrators to take down online postings of the products.
The authority warned consumers to see a doctor immediately if they have taken Lung Tan Tsao, as discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure.
Consumers should stop taking Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or have health concerns.
The public should also avoid purchasing health products from unfamiliar sources and be careful when buying such products online or from friends.
"You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They can contain potent ingredients which can seriously harm your health," said HSA.
All sellers and suppliers should stop selling Lung Tan Tsao and Candy B+ Coffee Extra Power immediately, said the authority.
"It is illegal to sell and supply such products which contain potent medicinal ingredients," it said.
If convicted, sellers and suppliers could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$10,000, or both.