HSA halts sale of 'weight-loss' products containing high levels of banned substance

The “Anyang Herbal Red” weight-loss product that was found to contain high levels of sibutramine. (PHOTO: HSA)

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued a public alert on the Anyang Herbal Blue and Anyang Herbal Red weight-loss products, which have been found to contain high levels of a banned substance called sibutramine.

Anyang Herbal Red was also found to contain undeclared potent Western medicines, namely diclofenac (a painkiller) and phenolphthalein (a laxative), said the HSA in a release on Monday (6 March).

The products, which were marketed via social networking sites and sold online, were labelled as having “100 per cent natural ingredients”. Despite being touted as having no side effects, a consumer in her late 20s who took Anyang Herbal Blue complained of heart palpitations, nausea, trembling in her limbs, sweating, insomnia and even hallucinations.

According to the HSA, one consumer of Anyang Herbal Blue complained of heart palpitations, nausea, trembling of hands and legs, sweating, insomnia and illusions after taking it. (PHOTO: HSA)

Sibutramine was at one point available here as a prescription-only weight-loss drug, but was withdrawn from the Singapore market in 2010 due to an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes. Other adverse side effects of the drug include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, hallucinations and mood swings.

The HSA has ordered a halt on all sales of the two products, adding that it is illegal to sell and supply complementary health products, such as health supplements and traditional medicines, containing undeclared potent Western medicines or banned substances.

Members of the public have also been advised to immediately stop taking Anyang Herbal Blue and Anyang Herbal Red and to consult a doctor if they have consumed the products and feel unwell.

Those who have information about the sale and supply of these products can contact the HSA’s Enforcement Branch at hsa_is@hsa.gov.sg.