HSA issues advisory against herbal, slimming capsules after consumers report adverse effects
SINGAPORE: The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) alerted members of the public against buying or consuming two types of herbal and slimming capsules, following consumer reports of adverse effects.
The products – Traditional Herbs Preparation XPE and FS++ Slimming Supplements by JPJ Slim – were found to have contained potent medical ingredients and a banned substance.
“These adulterants can cause serious adverse effects in individuals,” HSA said in a news release on Tuesday (Mar 1).
In the first case, a woman in her 60s took Traditional Herbs Preparation XPE for more than nine months to relieve joint pain.
She received the pills from a friend, who obtained it in Malaysia, HSA said.
“The product label listed a variety of natural herbs as its ingredients and was marketed for general health,” the authority added.
“Although the consumer experienced a quick relief of her joint pain, it worsened when she stopped taking it or reduced the dose.
“This raised her doctor’s suspicion that the product may contain undeclared potent ingredients such as steroids or painkillers.”
HSA tested the product and found six medicinal ingredients: Dexamethasone (a steroid), chlorpheniramine (an antihistamine), ibuprofen (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), lovastatin (a cholesterol-lowering medicine), chloramphenicol and tetracycline (both antibiotics).
Long-term unsupervised use of steroids such as dexamethasone can cause increased blood glucose levels, which may lead to diabetes, as well as Cushing’s syndrome, a disorder characterised by a round face appearance and upper body central obesity with thin limbs.
The second case involved a customer who reported experiencing insomnia, headache and confusion after taking FS++ Slimming Supplements By JPJ Slim.
“The product was purchased via a local social media platform that carried consumer testimonials on its quick slimming results,” HSA said.
It was packaged in a bottle with minimal information, labelled “60 capsules” and “Made in Thailand”, as well as a website link.
Upon testing, HSA found that it contained sibutramine, a weight loss medicine that has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
“The continued intake of this product could have led to serious health consequences such as heart problems and central nervous system disorders,” HSA said, adding that such disorders include psychosis and hallucinations.
“The product was also found to be sold by the same seller on other social media platforms,” it said.
“HSA has worked with the platform administrators to promptly remove the affected listings. Investigation against the seller is ongoing.”
The authority advised consumers to see a doctor if they have taken Traditional Herbs Preparation XPE as it contains a “potent steroid”.
“Discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure, especially when the product has been taken for more than a few weeks,” it said.
Those who are taking FS++ Slimming Supplements By JPJ Slim should stop immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health.
Sellers who carry such products must stop selling them immediately.
HSA has urged consumers to be wary of “products that deliver quick effects or carry exaggerated claims”, which can “contain potent ingredients that can seriously harm your health”.
Customer should also exercise caution when buying such products online or from well-meaning friends.
“HSA will not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against anyone who sells and/or supplies products found to be adulterated with potent medicinal ingredients,” it said.
If convicted, sellers and suppliers may be liable to prosecution. If convicted, they could be imprisoned for up to two years, fined up to S$10,000, or both.