They might be labelled as "100 per cent natural ingredients" but two weight loss products sold in Singapore have now been found to contain a banned substance.
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) released a statement Monday (Mar 6) warning the public to avoid buying or consuming the products labelled as 'Anyang Herbal Blue' and 'Anyang Herbal Red'.
Both products were marketed as weight loss products but were found to contain "very high levels" of sibutramine, a banned substance, after they were tested by HSA.
Sibutramine was previously available as a prescription-only weight loss drug but has been withdrawn from Singapore since 2010, due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes, said the HSA.
'Anyang Herbal Red' was found to contain undeclared potent Western medicines: diclofenac (a painkiller) and phenolphthalein (a laxative).
Although it was touted to have "no side effects", one woman in her late 20s who consumed 'Anyang Herbal Blue' complained of several ailments including heart palpitations, nausea, trembling of hands and legs, sweating and insomnia.
Based on dosage instructions labelled on 'Anyang Herbal Blue' and 'Anyang Herbal Red', a consumer could end up taking as much as eight times the maximum allowable amount of sibutramine per day. These dangerously high levels of sibutramine would predispose consumers to serious adverse effects, the statement read.
According to HSA, one seller (Jessie Cosmetics) had sold the weight loss products on a social media platform as well as directly to friends. The seller is currently assisting HSA's investigation.
HSA has also directed the immediate cessation of the sale of both products after the undeclared potent ingredients were found.
The authorities are warning sellers to stop the sale of 'Anyang Herbal Blue' and 'Anyang Herbal Red' immediately and that it is illegal to sell and supply complementary health products (such as health supplements, traditional medicines) containing undeclared potent western medicines or banned substances.
Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years, fined up to $100,000 or both.
Members of the public are encouraged to visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from dubious sources.