The Ministry of Health (MoH) has banned six slimming and cosmetic products after they were found to have been adulterated with sibutramine and mercury.
The four cosmetic products are Etude House Like Twenty All Day Cream Pact Ceramide + Murumuru Oil from South Korea, Night Creamy Pati Ibu Putih - Face and Body White manufactured in Kedah, Malaysia, Rose-White & Natural Cream Moisturiser and Dr King of Whitening Cream.
The ministry in a statement said the products were adulterated with mercury, a potent ingredient prohibited in cosmetic products as stipulated in the Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulation 2007.
Exposure to mercury can cause skin rashes, memory loss and muscle weakness while high exposure may result in damage to the brain and kidneys. It is also found to be extremely toxic to unborn children, the ministry said.
Meanwhile, two products named Slimfat Diet Kapsul and My Slimming Herbal Kapsul were found to contain sibutramine, which has harmful effects on the heart and liver.
The ministry said sibutramine also causes high blood pressure, heart palpitations, insomnia, and kidney and liver damage.
It added that it has not issued any approval for the import and/or Cosmestic Notification Acknowledgement Letter for sale of the said products.
Those who have purchased or used the products are advised to cease usage immediately.
Those who have used the products should consult a medical practitioner if they feel unwell or experience any undesirable reactions as a result of using them.
The ministry also reminded those involved in the retail of these products (including through social media platforms) that it is an offence to sell any product containing a substance controlled under the Poisons Act 1956.
The penalty for such an offence upon conviction is a fine of $8,000 (S$8,000) or six months imprisonment. Furthermore, if a person commits an act that amounts to a degree of negligence that endangers or is likely to endanger human life, then such person shall be guilty of an offence that carries a fine of $16,000 and 12 months imprisonment.
It is also an offence under the Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations 2007 to import and market cosmetic products in the local market without a Cosmetic Product Notification Acknowledgement Letter issued by the authority. The penalty for contravening these regulations upon conviction is a fine not exceeding $5,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
The ministry is seeking help from the public to lodge a report to the Pharmacy Enforcement Section if any of the products are still in the market.