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Banned substance, potent adulterants found in five products, including slimming pills: HSA

Potent adulterants, including a banned substance, have been found in five products sold on local e-commerce and social media platforms that may cause severe adverse effects among consumers, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Thursday (Dec 30).

The products are: X-Gout, dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme, KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage, Speedy Slim Capsules (Black) and Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold).

HSA advised the public to refrain from purchasing or consuming these products and those who have consumed them to see a doctor as soon as possible.

In its statement, HSA said it had found potent adulterants, which include medicinal ingredients and sibutramine, a banned substance, in the products.

Citing cases where consumers have experienced severe adverse effects, HSA said a woman in her 40s who had taken X-Gout for a year developed Cushing's syndrome, a life-threatening steroid-induced condition.

She had used the product for her knee pain and over the course of a few months had gained 22kg as well as experiencing shortness of breath and swelling of her lower limbs.

She consulted a doctor, who diagnosed her with diabetes and reported her case to HSA for further investigation as the symptoms indicated inappropriate steroid consumption.

Upon testing the product, HSA detected four medicinal ingredients - dexamethasone, a steroid, indomethacin and piroxicam, which are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and paracetamol.

A man in his 40s also developed Cushing's syndrome after taking dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme for about six months.

After he stopped consuming the product, he experienced withdrawal symptoms such as loss of appetite, lower energy levels and rashes on his body.

HSA said samples of the honey enzyme were found to contain paracetamol, and it could not rule out the presence of other adulterants or steroids.

The KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage was found to contain sulphamethoxydiazine, an antibacterial medicine, and amethocaine, an anaesthetic, after the HSA received feedback from a consumer who had experienced side effects such as fast heartbeat, thirst and dry mouth.

HSA said the consumer had taken the product for a few days.

Both the black and gold versions of the Speedy Slim Capsules were seized by HSA after receiving feedback from consumers about unapproved slimming products being sold on Instagram.

The capsules were marketed with exaggerated claims such as "target at breaking down stubborn extra fat", "cut off starch absorption", and "losing weight and clearing fat".

HSA found high levels of sibutramine in the capsules after testing them.

Sibutramine is used as an anti-obesity drug and works by suppressing the appetite of the consumer. It was banned by HSA in 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

HSA has issued the following advice to consumers:

- Be wary of products that carry exaggerated claims or deliver unexpectedly quick results, such as fast weight loss or immediate pain relief. They can contain potent ingredients that can seriously harm your health.

- Exercise caution when buying such products online or from well-meaning friends as they cannot be certain where and how these products were made and whether they have been adulterated with harmful ingredients.

Adulterated products are often manufactured under poor conditions with no quality control, and different batches of the same product may contain variable amounts of ingredients and/or different types of adulterants.

- Always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you need help to manage your chronic medical conditions. Those convicted of selling or supplying products found to be adulterated with potent medicinal ingredients can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $100,000, or both.

HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY