SINGAPORE: Four products marketed online as weight loss merchandise have been found to contain sibutramine, a banned substance that can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (Mar 25).
They are: Flash Slim; Leedee Botanical Beverage Mix Pineapple Juice Powder with African Mango; Quinn S Amyera; and Schocolite Double Chocolate Cookies Drink with Hoodia Gordinii Extract and L-Carnitine.
One consumer who took Flash Slim experienced serious adverse effects such as palpitations, nausea, insomnia and excessive sweating, said HSA.
All sellers and suppliers must stop selling these products immediately, said HSA in a press release.
Consumers should stop taking the products immediately as well, and consult a doctor if they feel unwell, the release said.
The products were sold on local e-commerce and social media platforms. HSA said it has worked with the platform administrators to remove the listings, and has issued warnings to the sellers.
Those who sell or supply products adulterated with banned substances or potent medicinal ingredients are liable to prosecution, and can be jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$10,000 or both.
MAN EXPERIENCED SERIOUS ADVERSE EFFECTS
HSA said that the male consumer who had suffered adverse side effects after taking Flash Slim had seen an advertisement for the pills on an e-commerce website. The advertisement claimed that the product was “15 times more effective to burn stubborn fat” with “results guaranteed within one to five days”.
HSA said it received feedback from members of the public who suspected that the other three products potentially contained potent ingredients because of the exaggerated weight loss claims.
The products were marketed to “burn fats quickly”, “show results (in) as early as seven to 14 days” and “increase metabolism”, said the authority.
Sibutramine was a prescription-only weight loss medicine in Singapore but has been banned since 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke, said HSA.
Other serious adverse effects reported in the past include insomnia and hallucinations.
In 2019, a woman who consumed a product containing sibutramine experienced extremely fast heart rate and became unconscious.
“She was resuscitated and suffered debilitating consequences requiring the implantation of a defibrillator to help her heart to function,” said HSA.
HSA advised consumers to be wary of products that carry exaggerated claims of fast weight loss without the need for exercise or diet control.
“Exercise caution when buying such products online or from well-meaning friends. You cannot be certain where and how these products were made. They can contain potent ingredients which can seriously harm your health,” it said.
“There is no quick and easy way to lose weight. Weight control should be achieved through a combination of balanced diet and appropriate exercise,” it added.