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Singapore health authority warns sellers after three weight-loss products on Shopee found to contain banned toxic substance
Published on: Saturday, January 13, 2024
By: Malay Mail
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Singapore health authority warns sellers after three weight-loss products on Shopee found to contain banned toxic substance
Weight-loss products tested by the Health Sciences Authority. Clockwise from left: Nature Slim, Slimming Seven Days by Figure Up, and Energy Booster Figure-Up New Look Strong Version. — HSA pic
SINGAPORE: Three weight-loss products claiming to be “natural” and “herbal” have been found to contain high amounts of sibutramine, a banned toxic substance that can cause serious effects such as heart problems, psychosis and hallucinations when consumed.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) warned the public against buying or taking these products that were sold on online retail site Shopee.

They are:

- Nature Slim

- Slimming Seven Days by Figure Up

- Energy Booster Figure-Up New Look Strong Version

HSA has worked with Shopee's administrator to remove the affected listings and warned the sellers.

It has also urged all sellers and suppliers to stop selling the three products immediately.

Sibutramine is a prescription-only weight loss medicine banned in Singapore since 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Other serious health consequences reported with its use include heart problems and central nervous system disorders such as psychosis, where consumers previously reported having hallucinations or hearing voices, palpitations and breathlessness after taking slimming products that contained sibutramine.

HSA said that in one case, a consumer had an extremely fast heart rate and became unconscious after taking a product containing sibutramine. She was resuscitated and needed a defibrillator implanted to help her heart to function.

For the latest products, HSA noted that they were falsely labelled with “GMP” logos and consumers may be misled into believing that the products are safe and made under high-quality standards certified by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP).

For Nature Slim, the product was also labelled as containing “botanical extract" and marketed as a “traditional preparation” that is “clinically proven” for “advanced weight loss” and to “control appetite”.

A consumer who took it for two months ended up having rapid heartbeat, dry mouth and extreme thirst.

Her friend had informed her that these symptoms were normal since the product was advertised as helping to “enhance metabolism”.

However, she became suspicious after reading HSA’s past press release that the effects she experienced may be due to the presence of sibutramine and reported it to the authority.

For the product Slimming Seven Days by Figure Up, it was labelled as “100% natural” and also marketed as a "traditional" product to reduce body fats and "suppress appetite".

After taking it for just a few days, one consumer had insomnia, extreme thirst and dry mouth.

HSA’s analysis detected very high levels of sibutramine in this product, as well as the one called Energy Booster Figure-Up New Look Strong Version.

What consumers should do

HSA said that consumers should stop taking these products immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health.

It also urged consumers to keep away from products claiming to be “100% herbal”, “100% natural”, “clinically proven”, or guarantee weight loss within days because these may contain potent ingredients that can seriously harm one's health.

"There is no quick and easy way to lose weight," it added.

"Weight control should be achieved through a combination of balanced diet and appropriate exercise. If you need help managing your weight, please consult your doctor or dietitian."

Consumers are advised to:

- Refrain from buying products from unknown or unverifiable sources

- Buy only from reputable pharmacies or from sellers with an established retail presence in Singapore

- Be cautious when buying products online or overseas, because one cannot be sure where and how these products were made and whether they contain harmful ingredients

Adulterated products are often manufactured under poor conditions with no quality control, HSA said. Different batches of the same product may contain variable amounts of ingredients or different types of adulterants, or both.

“These products may appear well-packaged or labelled as certified to meet quality standards, but these are tactics used by unscrupulous manufacturers to falsely portray that the products are safe and of good quality, when in fact they can contain potent ingredients, which can seriously harm your health,” it added.

HSA said that it will not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against anyone who sells and supplies products found to be adulterated with banned substances or potent ingredients.

Anyone convicted of doing so may be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$10,000

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