$9,000 worth of illegal health products seized by HSA

HSA seized 4,520 units of illegal health products worth around S$9,000 in October 2018. FILE PHOTO: Reuters/Russell Boyce

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has seized 4,520 units of illegal health products worth around $9,000 during a week-long online enforcement operation coordinated by Interpol from 9 to 16 October.

More than 90 per cent of the seized products are weight-loss products, the HSA said in a statement on Tuesday (23 October). They were found to contain the banned substance sibutramine, as well as some potent medicinal ingredients. Two people are assisting HSA in the investigations.

From 2013 to last month, HSA has found 39 different products marketed for weight loss that had banned substances and potent laxatives. Five serious medical cases were linked with such products, with the affected people suffering from hallucinations, breathing difficulties and heart palpitations.

HSA also seized 500 tablets of modafinil, an unregistered medicine which can cause heart problems, high blood pressure, anxiety, mania and hallucinations if taken without doctor’s prescription. It said that any unauthorised sale of unregistered health products is an offence.

The public is advised to be cautious when buying health products online, as it is not certain what the products contain, and where and how they were made. Fake products or products contaminated with undeclared or banned ingredients can seriously harm a person’s health, HSA warned.

HSA added that the public should be wary of health products that promised quick results or carry exaggerated claims, or those that are cheaper and appear to offer better value.

Consumers who wish to buy health products online should consider buying them from websites with an established retail presence in Singapore.

Anyone who supplies illegal health products may be jailed for up to 3 years, or fined up to S$100,000, or both upon conviction.

Those who encounter illegal, counterfeit or other suspicious health products are encouraged to contact the Enforcement Branch of HSA at 68663485 or email hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.

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