HSA warns against two illegal weight loss products

Published In The Straits Times on February 10, 2016

SINGAPORE – The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is alerting the public about two illegal weight loss products. Two people who took the products suffered hallucinations and acute kidney failure, said a statement on Wednesday morning.

One product, Nutri Drops Grapefruit Diet, was labelled as containing natural ingredients. But HSA’s testing found that it contained “potent, undeclared chemical ingredients” such as the weight loss drug sibutramine.

Sibutramine has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to serious safety concerns about its effects on the heart and circulatory system. Its possible effects include high blood pressure and heart attacks.

The product also contained phenolphthalein, which may cause rashes, abdominal cramps, bone pain, difficulty in breathing and kidney disorders.
Nutrex Research Adipodex, marketed online as a dietary supplement, was labelled as containing yohimbine, a potent medicinal ingredient that is not allowed in supplements sold in Singapore, and is only for use “under strict medical supervision”.

The two hospitalisation cases were recently reported to HSA by healthcare professionals. A female teenager had hallucinations after taking Nutri Drops Grapefruit Diet for more than a month, while a man in his 20s suffered acute kidney failure after taking Nutrex Research Adipodex.

Both products were bought online and were touted to help in weight loss. Investigations by HSA are ongoing.

HSA advised those who are now taking the products to stop using them immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell. It also exhorted the public to be wary of complementary health products such as supplements and traditional medications “which make exaggerated claims or promise to provide rapid weight loss” and to be cautious when buying products and getting them from reliable local sources rather than online.

HSA said it will take strong enforcement action against those who sell and supply illegal health products containing potent medicinal ingredients. Anyone convicted of selling such products may be fined up to $10,000, jailed for up to two years or both under the Poisons Act. They could also be fined up to $5,000, jailed for up to two years or both under the Medicines Act.