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HSA Alert: Five Products Detected to Contain Potent Adulterants; Three Consumers Experienced Serious Adverse Effects Including Diabetes

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is alerting members of the public to not purchase or consume five products which were marketed online. The five products are:

Product name

Potent adulterants detected

‘X-Gout’

Dexamethasone;

Indomethacin;

Paracetamol;

Piroxicam

‘dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme’

Paracetamol

‘KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage’

Sulphamethoxydiazine;

Amethocaine

‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Black)’

Sibutramine

‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold)’

Sibutramine

 

HSA tested the products and found that they contained potent adulterants, including medicinal ingredients and the banned substance sibutramine. These adulterants had caused serious adverse effects in consumers.

2      The products were sold on local e-commerce and social media platforms. HSA has worked with the platform administrators to promptly remove the affected listings and issued warnings to the respective sellers. Please refer to Annex A for photos of the products that were analysed by HSA and Annex B for more information about the possible adverse effects of the potent adulterants found in the products.

 ‘X-GOUT’ and ‘dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme’ Led to Serious Conditions in Two Consumers

‘X-Gout’

3      A woman in her 40s developed Cushing’s syndrome, a life-threatening steroid-induced condition after taking ‘X-Gout’ for one year. Her friend 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 when she consulted her doctor on the symptoms. As these symptoms indicated inappropriate steroid consumption, her doctor reported the case to HSA for investigation. HSA tested the product and detected four medicinal ingredients: dexamethasone, a steroid; indomethacin and piroxicam, which are both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), 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. 

‘dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme’

4      A man in his 40s developed Cushing’s syndrome, a life-threatening steroid-induced condition, after taking ‘dcr Natural Herbs Honey Enzyme’ for about 6 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. Based on the man’s symptoms, his doctor suspected that the product was adulterated with steroids and alerted HSA. 

5      HSA obtained samples of the product which were tested and found to contain paracetamol. It cannot be ruled out that there may potentially be other adulterants or steroids present in other batches of the product, since Cushing’s syndrome is often associated with long-term inappropriate consumption of steroids. 

Consumers’ Feedback Aided in Detection of Adulterated Products

‘KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage’

6      HSA had 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.  

‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Black)’ and ‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold)’

7      HSA detected and seized ‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Black)’ and ‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold)’ following feedback from members of 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 reported in the past by consumers who took products adulterated with sibutramine include insomnia and hallucinations. In 2019, a consumer experienced extremely fast heart rate and became unconscious. She was resuscitated and suffered debilitating consequences, including requiring the implantation of a defibrillator (a medical device) to help her heart to function.

Advisory to Consumers

8      Consumers are advised on the following:

  • As ‘X-Gout’ contains a potent steroid, consumers who have taken this product 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. 
  • Consumers who have taken ‘dcr Natural herbs Honey Enzyme’ should see a doctor as soon as possible, as there may potentially be potent ingredients in other batches of ‘dcr Natural herbs Honey Enzyme’ that have not been detected. 
  • Consumers should stop taking the weight loss products, ‘KMS2 Dark Chocolate Mocha Botanical Beverage’, ‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Black)’ and ‘Speedy Slim Capsules (Gold)’ immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health. There is no quick and easy way to lose weight. Weight control should be achieved through a combination of balanced diet and appropriate exercise. Those who need help managing their weight should consult a doctor, dietitian or a healthcare professional.
  • Consumers should be wary of products that carry exaggerated claims or deliver unexpectedly quick results, such as fast weight loss or immediate pain relief. They can contain potent ingredients that can seriously harm your health. 
  • Consumers should exercise caution when buying such 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. 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.
  • Always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you need help to manage your chronic medical conditions. 

Advisory to Sellers and Suppliers

9      All sellers and suppliers must stop selling these products immediately. HSA will not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against anyone who sells and/or supplies products found to be adulterated with potent medicinal ingredients. Sellers and suppliers are liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or fined up to $100,000.

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

HEALTH SCIENCES AUTHORITY
SINGAPORE
30 DECEMBER 2021

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Consumer, Healthcare professional, Industry member, Health supplements
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