SINGAPORE — A woman who consumed a product containing potent ingredients later developed diabetes and other serious effects, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warned on Thursday (30 December).
After taking "X-Gout" for one year, the woman in her 40s developed Cushing's syndrome, a life-threatening steroid-induced condition, said HSA. In addition to "X-Gout", HSA urged the public not to buy or consume four other products containing potent substances that had caused serious adverse effects in consumers.
The products were sold on local e-commerce and social media platforms, and HSA said it has worked with the administrators to promptly remove the affected listings and issued warnings to the respective sellers.
The five products are:
Two products caused Cushing's syndrome in two persons
On the "X-Gout", a friend of the woman had purchased the product via Shopee Malaysia on her behalf, and encouraged her to use it for her knee pain. The woman gained 22 kilograms over a few months, experienced shortness of breath and swelling of the lower limb. She was diagnosed with diabetes upon consultation with her doctor.
HSA tested the product and detected four medicinal ingredients: dexamethasone, a steroid; indomethacin and piroxicam, which are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; and paracetamol.
Long-term unsupervised use of steroids such as dexamethasone can cause increased blood glucose levels, which may lead to diabetes; Cushing’s syndrome, characterised by a round face or "moon face" appearance, and upper body obesity with thin limbs; and other serious adverse effects.
Meanwhile, a man in his 40s also developed Cushing’s syndrome after taking "dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme" for about six months. When he stopped using the product, he experienced withdrawal symptoms such as loss of appetite, lower energy levels and subsequently, rashes on his body.
HSA tested samples of the product, and found it to contain paracetamol. It has not ruled out other adulterants or steroids present in other batches of the product, since Cushing’s syndrome is associated with long-term inappropriate consumption of steroids.
Side effects experienced in weight-loss products
HSA also received feedback from a member of the public who experienced side effects such as fast heartbeat, thirst, and dry mouth after consuming "KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage" for a few days.
The sellers had made claims that the product “speeds up fat burning by inducing heat, helps soothe digestive systems and boost metabolic cycles to reduce appetite and is safe without rebounding weight”.
HSA tested the product and found them to contain sulphamethoxydiazine, an antibacterial medicine, and amethocaine, an anaesthetic.
It also seized the products "Speedy Slim Capsules (Black)" and "Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold)" following feedback from the public that there were unapproved slimming products being sold on Instagram.
These products made exaggerated claims such as “target at breaking down stubborn extra fat”, “cut off starch absorption”, and “losing weight and clearing fat”.
Both products were tested by HSA and were found to contain very high levels of sibutramine, a prescription-only weight-loss medicine that has been banned since 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Other serious adverse effects include insomnia and hallucinations.
Advice for consumers of the products
HSA has advised consumers of the five above-mentioned products of the following:
X-Gout: The product contains a potent steroid, and consumers should see a doctor as soon as possible. Discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure, especially when the product has been taken for more than a few weeks.
dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme: Consumers should see a doctor as soon as possible, as there may potentially be potent ingredients in other batches of the product that have not been detected.
KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage, Speedy Slim Capsules (Black), Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold): Consumers should stop taking these weight-loss products immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health. Those who need help managing their weight should consult a doctor, dietitian or a healthcare professional.
HSA has also advised consumers to be wary of products that carry exaggerated claims or deliver unexpectedly quick results, such as fast weight loss or immediate pain relief. These products may contain potent ingredients that can seriously harm one's health.
Consumers should also exercise caution when buying such health products online or from well-meaning friends, as they cannot be certain where and how these products were made and whether they have been adulterated with harmful ingredients.
HSA said that adulterated products are often manufactured under poor conditions with no quality control, and different batches of the same product may contain variable amounts of ingredients and/or different types of adulterants. Consumers needing help to manage chronic medical conditions should always consult their doctor or pharmacist.
HSA has also told all sellers and suppliers to stop selling these five products immediately, otherwise they are liable for prosecution and may face up to 3 years' jail and/or fined up to $100,000.
Those who have any information on the sale and supply of the illegal products may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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