Weight loss product sold online contains banned substance: HSA

A weight loss product sold online has been found to contain a banned substance, with the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warning people not to consume it.

According to a statement from the HSA, the product called 'Nutriline Bluvelle' was found to contain a banned substance, sibutramine, which has been found to increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

'Nutriline Bluvelle' was marketed as a health supplement for slimming, with claims that it contains natural plant ingredients which are 'safe and free of side effects'.

However, a woman in her 20s who consumed the product complained that she experienced rapid heartbeats, anxiety, a drastic decrease in appetite, dizziness and lethargy, said the HSA. Such symptoms are common adverse reactions associated with the use of the banned substance, sibutramine, they said.

The consumer had purchased the product from an online shop based in Malaysia, but HSA says the product was also sold on several other local and overseas online platforms. HSA is currently investigating the local sale of this product.

Dangers of sibutramine, a banned substance

Sibutramine was previously available as a prescription-only weight loss drug but was withdrawn from Singapore in 2010, due to the finding that it increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Other serious adverse effects associated with the use of sibutramine include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, hallucinations and mood swings, said the HSA.

In the past, HSA had received adverse effect reports about consumers experiencing hallucinations or hearing voices, palpitations and breathlessness after consuming slimming products bought online. These products were tested to contain the banned substance sibutramine, even though they were marketed to contain natural ingredients.

The HSA advises members of the public to:

- Stop taking 'Nutriline Bluvelle' immediately, and consult a doctor if you feel unwell or are concerned about your health.

- Be wary of health products that promise or deliver quick and miraculous weight loss. Such products may contain prescription medicines which should only be taken under medical supervision, or undeclared potent or banned ingredients that may seriously harm your health. Do not gamble with your health.

- Do not trust online product reviews, as these testimonials usually cannot be verified.

- Exercise caution when purchasing health products online. Anyone can be a seller on these e-commerce platforms. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They could potentially be counterfeits or adulterated with undeclared potent or banned ingredients which can seriously harm your health.

Additionally, members of the public are encouraged to visit www.healthdangers.sg to learn more about the dangers of buying health products from dubious sources.

Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or fined up to $100,000.

Members of the public who have any information on the illegal local sale and supply of 'Nutriline Bluvelle'  are advised to contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.