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Health Sciences Authority

HSA Detects an Undeclared Western Medicinal Ingredient in a Batch Of Beijing 101 Hair Consultants "Hair Growth Formula D-2653-B" and "Hair Growth Tonic E-0583-D"

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has detected an undeclared western medicinal ingredient in two products, namely “Hair Growth Formula D-2653-B” and “Hair Growth Tonic E-0583-D”, used as haircare therapies by Beijing 101 Hair Consultants. The undeclared substance, minoxidil, is a pharmacy-only medicine and can only be used under the supervision of doctors or sold by pharmacists for the treatment of hair loss. Other than healthcare establishments, all other establishments such as hair and beauty salons are not allowed to sell or supply products containing minoxidil to their customers.

2      Both “Hair Growth Formula D-2653-B” and “Hair Growth Tonic E-0583-D” are manufactured by Beijing Zhangguang 101 Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd in Beijing, China. During HSA's regular product quality sampling programme on marketed health products, one batch of “Hair Growth Formula D-2653-B” (B/N 20091201) and “Hair Growth Tonic E-0583-D” (B/N 20091201) were tested by HSA's Pharmaceutical Laboratory to contain the western medicinal ingredient, minoxidil. The affected batches of the two products have since been recalled from Beijing 101 Hair Consultants haircare centres.

About the Product

3      Beijing 101 Hair Consultants' “Hair Growth Formula D-2653-B” and “Hair Growth Tonic E-0583-D” are regulated as Chinese Proprietary Medicines (CPM) and declared to contain natural herbs. These products are labelled to “promote hair growth, reduce hair loss and improve blood circulation”. (See Annex A in pdf version for the photograph and product labeling of this particular product).

4      Consumers using these products are unknowingly exposed to a western medicinal ingredient, which is allowed for sale only by qualified healthcare professionals. Topical preparations containing minoxidil are classified as pharmacy-only medicines in Singapore and are used for the treatment of hair loss. Some of the adverse effects that have been associated with the use of minoxidil include skin irritation, rashes, itching, and exacerbation of hair loss in certain susceptible individuals.

5      Consumers who have purchased the affected batch of the products are advised to stop using them. Those who have used the affected products need not be unduly alarmed if they have not developed any side effects. Consumers who develop any unexpected reactions to these health products are advised to inform their doctors about it.

HSA's Advisory

6      “Androgenetic hair loss, also known as male or female pattern hair loss, is one of the most common causes of hair loss in our adult population. Currently, HSA has licensed only two medicinal ingredients that have been proven scientifically to be effective for the treatment of androgenetic hair loss. They are topical minoxidil for use in both men and women and oral finasteride for use in men. The efficacy of complementary health products such as CPM and cosmetics is not assessed by HSA. As such, claims that such products can promote hair growth or slow hair loss may not be substantiated by scientific evidence,” says Ms Chan Cheng Leng, Division Director of the Enforcement Branch of HSA. “HSA will not hesitate to take regulatory actions against dealers who import, sell and supply health products that contain undeclared western medicinal ingredients,” she added.

7      Members of the public are reminded to exercise caution when they encounter health products promising quick cures or advertisements with exaggerated and misleading claims. HSA advises consumers to be wary of unrealistic or exaggerated claims on health products. Common techniques or gimmicks include :

• Promotions using terms such as “scientific breakthrough”, “ancient remedy”
• Testimonials from people claiming amazing results
• Promises of no-risk, money-back guarantees
• Promises of an easy fix
• Claims that the product is “all natural” or ‘non-toxic”

Penalties for Contravention

8      Complementary health products are not allowed to contain western medicinal ingredients or substances controlled under the Poisons Act. If convicted, the penalty is a fine of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years under the Medicines Act or a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years under the Poisons Act.

28 July 2010

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