The dangers of adulterated, counterfeit and substandard health products

Adulterated health products, General safety

With the increasing number of platforms for buying health products, consumers run the risk of purchasing health products from dubious sources which can have serious health consequences. Dealers of such products are not concerned about the health and safety of their consumers. Instead, they are driven by the lucrative nature of this illegal trade.

These products frequently contain undeclared ingredients to enhance the effects to entice consumers to continue taking them. However, these ingredients may be unsafe, banned or have not been properly evaluated for its safe use in humans. They could also contain medicinal ingredients that can be dangerous if taken without medical supervision. Instead of treating medical conditions, these illegal products can worsen the condition, cause serious adverse effects and even death in some cases.

In addition to unsafe or inappropriate ingredients, health products from dubious sources are often manufactured under poor and unhygienic conditions. Due to the lack of quality control, they often contain a variable or the wrong amount of ingredients. This can potentially lead to serious overdosing or poisoning.

These products may also be counterfeit or fake products that have similar names and packaging as those sold in clinics or pharmacies, thus making it difficult for consumers to differentiate the real products from the fake.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to adulterated, counterfeit and substandard health products:

1. Avoid purchasing health products from unfamiliar sources

Be cautious when purchasing health products online or from unfamiliar sources, even if they are recommended by friends or relatives. You cannot be certain what these products contain, and where and how they were made. Do not buy medicines or health products peddled via makeshift street stalls, unsolicited spam mail, or from unknown sellers over the Internet. These products could potentially be counterfeit or adulterated with undeclared potent ingredients. If buying online, only buy health products from websites with an established retail presence in Singapore.

2. Beware of deals that seem too good to be true

If the deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Be wary of products which are selling at significantly lower prices than those at clinics, pharmacies or established retail outlets – they may be counterfeit, fake, substandard or expired products offered at low prices to entice buyers.

3. Don’t be fooled by exaggerated claims

Be wary of health products that promise quick and miraculous results or carry exaggerated claims. Such products may contain prescription medicines which should only be taken under medical supervision, or other potent ingredients that may harm you. Such health products are often marketed using false and exaggerated claims, such as:

  • 'Scientific' claims - Some products may make claims based on scientific studies and evidence, but these may be difficult for the average consumer to verify. Always consult your doctor before purchasing any of these health products.
  • '100% safe' claims - No product is completely free of risk. Some adulterated health products are marketed as 'natural' or 'herbal', but have been found to contain potent prescription medicines to help the products achieve quicker effects.
  • 'Miracle' claims - Consumers should always be wary of products that promise miraculous results. Chronic medical conditions cannot be solved overnight; they require consistent and proper treatment by medical professionals.
  • 'Personal success' claims - Marketing gimmicks such as personal testimonials are difficult to verify and may not be genuine accounts. Products which work well for one person may not work the same for another person. A trained medical professional will be able to properly assess and recommend what health product will work best for you, based on your medical history and condition.

4. See your doctor

With the wealth of information that is available over the Internet today, many people try to self-medicate and treat their own conditions. This can be dangerous because you may misdiagnose your ailment. In addition, by putting off a visit to the doctor, you run the risk of your condition getting worse. If you are feeling unwell, always seek help from a medical professional.

As a consumer, you are advised to make informed decisions, and exercise discretion in your purchases and usage of health products. Consuming adulterated, counterfeit or substandard products may cost you your health. Don’t risk it!