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HSA updates on products found overseas that contain potent ingredients (September 2023)

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) would like to update the public on products that have been found and reported by overseas regulators in September 2023 to contain potent ingredients which are not allowed in these products and may cause side effects. This information is provided to increase awareness on safety issues of such products found overseas, which may impact the local population. Please refer to Annex A and Annex B for the list of products and the possible side effects of the potent ingredients. Please refer to the pdf document for images of the products.

HSA’s Advisory

2          Members of the public are advised to:

  • Consult a doctor if you have consumed any of the products and are feeling unwell.
  • Avoid buying any of the products when abroad.
  • Exercise caution when purchasing health products online or from sources (either local or overseas) which you may not be familiar with, even if well-meaning friends or relatives have recommended them. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They may be illegal, counterfeit or substandard, and may contain potent ingredients which can harm your health. If buying health products online, we encourage you to buy them from websites with an established retail presence in Singapore.
  • Be wary of products that promise quick and miraculous results or carry exaggerated claims like “100% safe”, “no side effects” or “scientifically proven”. Consumers should also be cautious of products that produce unexpected quick recovery of medical conditions.
  • Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you need help for the management of your acute and chronic medical symptoms and conditions (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, eczema).

3          Additionally, members of the public are encouraged to visit https://www.hsa.gov.sg/consumer-safety/ to learn more about the dangers of buying health products from dubious sources.

4          Members of the public who come across the sale and supply of these products in Singapore may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866 3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.

Annex A

List of Products

Note: There may be different versions or variants of the products listed below. You are advised to consult your doctor or pharmacist if you are unsure of any health product you intend to use, or if you need help for your acute and chronic medical symptoms and conditions

Name of product

Potent ingredient(s)

Source
(Regulatory Agency)

AIDABEAUTY/ eye shadow Pure Mineral Artist Palette 15 colors - 01

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

ANYLADY/ Eyeshadow Palette Sweet Strawberry (04)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Beaute Treatment Cream

Betamethasone, Hydroquinone and Tretinoin

Malaysia National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency

Beaute Nite Cream

Betamethasone and Mercury

Malaysia National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency

BROW INK /s.f.r Color Eyebrow

Lead

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Enhanced Vegetal Vigra

Sildenafil
(PDE-5 inhibitor)

United States Food and Drug Administration

GINSENG PRO

Dexamethasone and Prednisolone

Ministry of Health, Cambodia

Kiss Beauty/ Cherry Lipgloss (06)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Kiss Mophy/ Soft Eye Shadow - 01

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

L’CHEAR/ Makeup Kit Colourful

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

L’CHEAR/ Makeup Kit Colorful Charming (No. 1)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

L’CHEAR/ Makeup Kit Colorful Charming (No. 2)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Mmeilaiya/ Eye Shadow Shine Color

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Pink Unicorn

Sildenafil
(PDE-5 inhibitor)

Health Canada

Premier Love 22000 Gold

Sildenafil
(PDE-5 inhibitor)

Health Canada

TOOT DODO/ Lip Cheek Dual Purpose (No. 3)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

TOOT DODO/ Lip Cheek Dual Purpose (No. 6)

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

VONGEE / Eyeshadow palette

Rhodamine B

Ministry of Health, Myanmar

Vslimming Herbal

Desmethylsibutramine, Sibutramine and Spironolactone

Hong Kong Department of Health

WEFUN Capsules

Sildenafil
(PDE-5 inhibitor)

United States Food and Drug Administration

 

Annex B

The possible side effects of the potent ingredients

Betamethasone

Betamethasone is a potent steroid. Long term use of an oral steroid without medical supervision can cause high blood pressure, cataracts, an increased risk of infections, and Cushing’s syndrome (characterised by the appearance of round face or ‘moon face’ and upper body obesity with thin limbs).

 

Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone is a potent ingredient used in prescription medicines for the treatment of skin conditions. The ingredient is prohibited in skincare cosmetic products and should only be used under medical supervision, as hydroquinone may cause harmful effects if not used properly. The inappropriate use of hydroquinone could result in changes in skin colour and hypersensitivity reactions such as rashes, redness, tingling and burning of skin.

 

Lead

Lead is a toxic substance and poisoning can occur when it builds up in the body, often over months or years. It can cause long-term harm including kidney damage and increased risk of high blood pressure.

 

Mercury

Mercury is a toxic substance and is prohibited for use as an ingredient in cosmetic products. Regular application of creams containing mercury could lead to rash, skin discolouration and blotching. Chronic exposure to very high levels of mercury in cosmetic products may also cause toxic effects to the kidneys, digestive and nervous system, as it can be absorbed through the skin. This could lead to organ damage.

 

Rhodamine B

Rhodamine B is a dye used for printing and dyeing of textiles, paper, paints and leathers. It is prohibited to be used in health products, including cosmetic products, as it may be carcinogenic. It can cause side effects, such as irritation, when in contact with the skin and eyes. Cases of permanent injury to the eye and chemical conjunctivitis due to exposure to the dye have been documented. When ingested, it may cause gastrointestinal irritation with nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.

 

Phosphodiesterase Type 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors

This class of medicine includes carbodenafil, sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil and their derivatives. These medicines can cause serious side effects such as strokes, heart attacks, decreased or loss of vision and hearing and priapism (painful and exceedingly long erections). If priapism is not treated immediately, it may lead to permanent impotence. PDE-5 inhibitors are also not suitable for patients with medical conditions such as certain heart-related problems or who are on heart medications such as nitrates. Deaths of patients found to be using sildenafil while on nitrates have been reported overseas.

 

Sibutramine / Desmethylsibutramine

Sibutramine, previously a prescription weight loss medicine used in the treatment of obesity, has been disallowed for sale in Singapore since 2010 due to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. The use of sibutramine has been associated with serious side effects, including high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, hallucinations and mood swings. Desmethyl sibutramine is like sibutramine and may have similar side effects.

 

Spironolactone

Spironolactone is a medicine used to treat hyperaldosteronism (a disorder in which the adrenal gland releases too much of hormone aldosterone into the blood), low potassium levels, fluid retention, heart failure and high blood pressure. It should be used under medical supervision as hypersensitivity reactions, such as skin rashes and urticaria, may occur with the use of spironolactone. Severe skin reactions, such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome and toxic epidermal necrolysis, have been reported with spironolactone therapy.

 

Tretinoin

Tretinoin is a potent ingredient used in prescription medicines for the treatment of skin conditions and should be used under medical supervision. The ingredient is prohibited in skincare cosmetic products. Inappropriate use of tretinoin could lead to side effects such as redness and peeling of skin.

Download PDF:HSA Foreign Alert_2023_Sep748 KB

Consumer, Healthcare professional, Industry member, Chinese Proprietary Medicines, Cosmetic products, Health supplements, Traditional medicines
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