The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued a warning to the public on illegal capsules that contain an undeclared potent steroid, dexamethasone.
In its warning sent out on Thursday morning, the HSA said three people have fallen ill after taking these capsules.
The trio, two men and a women, had gotten the drug from friends or street peddlers after thinking they were meant for pain relief.
One of them, a man in his 80s, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit after consuming the capsules to treat his chronic back pain. He was diagnosed to have developed serious complications of Cushing’s syndrome – a hormonal condition disorder caused by prolonged exposure to high levels of a steroid hormone – after taking the pills for about a year.
The two other patients, a man in his 40s and a woman in her 50s, also suffered serious adverse reactions arising from taking the capsules. The woman’s family had reported the case to the HSA after suspecting her of consuming illegal drugs.
Upon testing the capsules, HSA found that they contain dexamethasone, a potent anti-inflammatory steroid used that should be taken only under strict supervision from doctors.
Consumption of dexamethasone can cause increased blood glucose (which can lead to diabetes), high blood pressure, eye muscular and bone disorders. Victims may also suffer withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking them.
These illegal capsules, either green-white or blue-white in colour, are packaged in transparent bottles and sold as herbal or traditional remedy for arthritic and joint pain, as well as for improved blood circulation.
The HSA takes a serious view against those who sell or supply illegal health products. Anyone caught importing, selling or possessing such illegal drugs for sale can be charged under the Poisons Act and be liable to a fine of up to $10,000 and/or imprisonment for a term of up to two years.
A clip of a man hitting an office worker – who appears to be an employee under his supervision - has gone viral in Singapore, sparking outrage and calls for the authorities to step in.