All they wanted was pain relief, but three patients who consumed unsafe health products bought overseas wound up in a worse state.
The three products - Joint-Soft, Kebigutaijiaonang and Pil Raja Urat Asli - contained undeclared potent Western medicinal ingredients that could have serious side effects when used without proper medical supervision, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said.
One patient in his 60s suffered from bleeding and had to be hospitalised after consuming Joint-Soft, a joint pain medication a friend had bought abroad.
Another patient in her 50s found her diabetes getting worse after taking Kebigutaijiaonang, which purportedly treated joint pain. It was bought by a family member overseas.
A third patient also gained weight after consuming Pil Raja Urat Asli, which she had bought overseas for pain relief.
The HSA found that Joint-Soft and Kebigutaijiaonang contained potent steroids, dexamethasone and prednisone, which are prescription-only medications for inflammation.
Long-term unsupervised use of oral steroids can increase blood glucose levels, among other things.
All three products also contained non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as piroxicam and indomethacin, which HSA said were potent painkillers that can cause potentially serious side effects including bleeding and heart attacks.
These three products are not known to be available here.
"Such illegal health products from illegitimate or unknown sources are generally produced under poor manufacturing conditions with no quality control," said HSA. "The contents can vary significantly from batch to batch."
Anyone taking these products should consult a doctor as soon as possible before stopping consumption, which could lead to withdrawal symptoms, said HSA.
It advised the public to be wary of complementary health products which claim to provide rapid pain relief for gout, arthritis and rheumatism.
Health products should be bought from reputable pharmacies and clinics locally, HSA said.
Those who sell or supply health products containing undeclared potent medicinal ingredients may be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to two years.
This article was first published on August 01, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.