SINGAPORE: The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Monday (Jun 22) issued an alert about three weight loss products that were found to have potent medicinal ingredients.
Two of the products, Clinic K and RO Slim Booster, contained the banned substance sibutramine, while Rozell Detox contained the potent laxative sennoside.
At the time of the news release on Monday, all three products were available for sale on local e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, Carousell and Qoo10, as well as on social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram.
In a statement to CNA on Jun 23, Shopee confirmed that the above products were "removed from the platform" on Monday night.
SIDE EFFECTS LIKE RAPID HEARTBEAT, DIZZINESS
Clinic K, marketed to be of “safe medical grade” and the “No 1 clinical weight-loss formula in Korea”, claimed to contain natural ingredients such as amino acids, green tea extract and other botanical extracts.
"However, HSA’s tests revealed that the product contained high levels of sibutramine. Sibutramine was previously a prescription-only-medicine for weight loss but has been banned in Singapore since 2010 because of an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes," the authority said.
"The level of sibutramine detected in the product was double the maximum daily dose previously allowed."
Consumers who took Clinic K reported experiencing extreme thirst, rapid heartbeat, dizziness and loss of appetite.
In one case, a woman in her 40s experienced a rapid heartbeat, dizziness and breathlessness after taking the product for two days.
The symptoms persisted for a few weeks even after she reduced the recommended dose by half and stopped taking the product after five days, HSA said.
Some of the marketing materials for Clinic K included a "warning" of potential effects such as nausea, dizziness, restlessness and rapid heartbeat due to the product’s "caffeine content", HSA said.
“This misleads consumers into thinking that the effects are normal and expected. These effects are in fact some of the adverse effects associated with sibutramine," the authority added.
In 2019, a woman experienced an extremely fast heart rate and lost consciousness after consuming a product containing sibutramine. She required resuscitation and now suffers from severe heart failure and has been implanted with a defibrillator.
Sibutramine was also found in RO Slim Booster, which was marketed as a diet control product. It was sold as an accompanying product to Rozell Detox, which was marketed to contain natural ingredients such as fruit powder and fruit extracts.
Consumers reported experiencing profuse sweating and rapid heart rate after taking the Rozell Detox, which was found to contain the potent laxative sennoside.
CONSUMERS SHOULD STOP TAKING PRODUCTS, SEE DOCTOR: HSA
HSA has advised consumers to stop taking the products immediately and to consult a doctor if they feel unwell or have concerns about their health.
The authority said it is working with the local administrators of the online platforms to take down the listings. It has also alerted Interpol and its counterparts in Korea about Clinic K and authorities in Malaysia over Rozell Detox and RO Slim Booster.
It also urged sellers and suppliers to stop selling the products immediately.
“It is illegal to sell and supply such products, which contained banned substances or potent medicinal ingredients,” HSA said. “Sellers and suppliers are liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to two years and/or fined up to S$10,000.”