Woman nearly dies from taking slimming drug; HSA issues advisory on products containing banned substance
HSA warns of three illegal slimming products sold online that can cause heart failure
A woman in her 50s needed to be resuscitated after she lost consciousness from consuming a slimming product for three months.
Marketed online as BB Body, it had caused her to develop an extremely fast heart rate.
She now has severe heart failure and is implanted with a defibrillator to regulate her heart rhythm. She also needs long-term medication for her heart.
The woman had bought BB Body from an online seller in Malaysia after seeing an Instagram post on the product.
She is one of several victims who suffered adverse reactions after consuming three slimming products found to contain a banned substance, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said yesterday.
Tests by HSA found that BB Body, Bello Smaze and Choco Fit contained sibutramine, a former prescription drug that was banned by HSA in 2010.
Sibutramine can lead to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious adverse effects.
A woman in her 20s who consumed Bello Smaze for four days experienced palpitations, insomnia and suicidal thoughts.
A woman in her 30s also developed palpitations after taking Choco Fit for two days.
HSA said the products were marketed on e-commerce and social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as having "no side effects" while delivering weight loss within days.
HSA said it has directed the administrators of local online platforms to remove listings of the affected products.
Meanwhile, a man in his 40s developed Cushing's syndrome, which is characterised by a "moon" face, thin limbs and thinning skin, after taking Seahorse Chop Du Zhong Ba Ji Wan for more than two months to relieve his arthritis.
Tests by HSA show the product contains the potent steroid dexamethasone as well as chlorpheniramine and frusemide, which have adverse effects.
HSA advises consumers to stop taking the three slimming products and to consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health.
Those who have taken Seahorse Chop Du Zhong Ba Ji Wan should see a doctor as soon as possible. That is because discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms.
Professor Lim Sun Sun, head of humanities, arts and social sciences at Singapore University of Technology and Design, said consumers must to be extra careful online, as the quality of products advertised online is not visible, unlike a physical store.
The Media Literacy Council member told The New Paper: "If the deal sounds too good to be true, it very likely is. Ideally, people should do their due diligence online to check the product's origins, where it is sourced from, and look for comments or warnings from people who have used it."
HSA warned sellers and suppliers to stop selling the four illegal products immediately.
Anyone convicted of supplying illegal health products can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $100,000, or both.
Anyone who has information on the sale and supply of these illegal products can call HSA's Enforcement Branch at 6866-3485 during office hours on weekdays or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org