SINGAPORE - Two illegal health products were found to contain potent western medicinal ingredients despite claims of all natural ingredients on their product labels.
These two products are 'JIN LONG Snakes' Bones Rheumatic Capsules' (金龙蛇骨风湿丸) and 'Golden Dragon Linzi Dong Mai Dan' (金龙靈芝通脈丹).
The first, sold on an overseas website, contains undeclared Western medicinal Ingredients betamethasone, piroxicam, oxethazaine, paracetamol and furosemide. The latter, which was brought into Singapore from medical hall overseas, contains dexamethasone.
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said in a media release that one patient in his 60s suffered from Cushing's syndrome and gastric complications after consuming 'JIN LONG Snakes' Bones Rheumatic Capsules'. The product claims to treat rheumatism and pain.
Another patient in her 50s experienced rapid relief of her pain symptoms after taking 'Golden Dragon Linzi Dong Mai Dan'.
HSA is alerting members of the public against consuming these products as betamethasone and dexamethasone are potent steroids and piroxicam is a potent painkiller.
HSA said that the steroids are usually prescribed for serious swelling and inflammatory conditions and should only be used under strict medical supervision. Long term unsupervised use of oral steroids can cause increased blood glucose levels leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, muscular and bone disorders, as well as an increased risk of infections and Cushing's syndrome.
Piroxicam, also known as a Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID), should also be used under strict medical supervision as it may potentially cause serious gastric bleeding.
HSA added that undeclared Western medicinal ingredients may also interact with other drugs and cause seriously harm to the consumer's health.
Members of the public who are consuming these products are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible before stopping consumption of the products.
Sudden discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure, especially when these products are taken for more than a few weeks.
HSA warned consumers to be wary of complementary health products promising 'miraculous cures' and/or providing rapid relief of their medical conditions. This is because they may contain ingredients which can cause serious permanent and irreversible adverse effects.
Consumers should also avoid purchasing health products sold on the Internet as they are usually produced under "poor manufacturing conditions with no quality control by unscrupulous persons who have little regard for human health, and may contain undeclared western medicinal ingredients or toxic ingredients, which can cause serious harm to a person," HSA said.
Those suffering from chronic medical conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism should seek proper medical treatment and not self-medicate.
HSA stressed that it will take strong enforcement action against those who sell and supply health products containing undeclared potent medicinal ingredients.
"Anyone found to contravene the Poisons Act faces a penalty of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for a period of up to two years under the Poisons Act," HSA said.
Members of the public who have any information on the sale of these two illegal products or any other illegal products may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866-3485 during office hours or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, members of public are encouraged to visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying illegal health products from dubious sources.