Woman develops serious side effects after taking unlabelled
pills for headaches 1

SINGAPORE: A woman in her 50s developed Cushing’s syndrome after she consumed unlabelled capsules she bought from a peddler at Redhill market, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Tuesday (Aug 13).

Cushing’s syndrome, commonly induced by steroids, is a serious medical condition which may cause high blood pressure, decreased immunity, weight gain and round or “moon” face.

The unlabelled capsules were sold in packets of 50 by a peddler at Redhill market. The product came with a leaflet printed in Chinese stating that the capsules contained multiple herbal ingredients such as Moringa seeds, cordyceps and Panax notoginseng flower.

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Accompanying leaflet printed in Chinese. (Images: Health Sciences Authority)

It also claimed that the product was “100% herbal” and could treat numerous medical conditions, including chronic diseases and conditions such as cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. 

The woman had been taking the product for three to four months for her headaches until her doctor suspected that the product was adulterated with steroids and alerted HSA. 

Tests found the product to contain steroids (dexamethasone, prednisolone) and other potent medicinal ingredients, such as diclofenac, a painkiller that may potentially cause serious gastric bleeding, as well as heart attacks and stroke when used for a prolonged period.

POTENT INGREDIENTS DETECTED IN TWO PRODUCTS SOLD ONLINE

HSA also warned about two other products – Skinny Lolita and Xtreme Candy.

Skinny Lolita was marketed as a traditional “all-natural” slimming remedy that contained only plant and herbal extracts. However, HSA tested it to contain sibutramine, a medicine that has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. 

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‘Skinny Lolita’ capsules (Photos: Health Sciences Authority)

Skinny Lolita was also promoted as the new packaging of a product which was previously tested by HSA in 2017 to contain sibutramine.

In a separate case, Xtreme Candy, marketed as a candy containing ginseng and other plant ingredients, was seized from a woman in her 40s who had imported them from Malaysia.

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The front and back of the ‘Xtreme Candy’ packaging. (Photos: Health Sciences Authority)

“It was tested to contain an analogue (chemically-related compound) of tadalafil, a potent prescription-only medicinal ingredient used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction,” HSA said.

Inappropriate use of tadalafil and its analogues can cause “serious adverse effects”, such as stroke, heart attack, low blood pressure and priapism – painful and prolonged erections.

Both products are being sold on multiple e-commerce websites in Singapore and Malaysia. HSA has directed local website administrators to remove the postings of both products. 

“We have also informed our Malaysian counterpart of the product postings for their follow-up enforcement actions,” added HSA.

READ: Woman suffers from severe heart failure after consuming illegal weight loss product: HSA

HSA advised all consumers to immediately stop taking the affected products and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health.

HSA also warned consumers to avoid purchasing health products from unfamiliar sources or that carry exaggerated claims, such as the ability to treat chronic conditions and diseases.

“Even if they are recommended by close friends or relatives, there is no way to ascertain how these products are made and contrary to their claims to be ‘100% herbal’ or ‘all-natural’, they may contain potent ingredients that can be harmful to health.”