Singapore "Health Drink" Laced with Powerful Drugs

December 16, 2010

A drink being sold in Singapore contains dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine.

A drink being sold in Singapore contains dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine, which has the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) advising individuals cease consumption.

The HAS detected the adulterated health product labeled "JianBu HuQian Wan," which was tested by HSA's Pharmaceutical Laboratory to contain the two undeclared potent western medicinal ingredients, which are controlled under the Poisons Act.

The product was reported to HSA's Vigilance Branch by a member of the public who became suspicious of the product, when her mother experienced rapid relief from body aches soon after consuming the product over a short period of time. Her mother had also suffered adverse effects as a result of taking the illegal product.

"JianBu HuQian Wan" is an illegal adulterated product which has not been approved by HSA. The product was bought from overseas and is indicated to treat joint pain, muscle aches, and weak limbs.

The illegal product is presented in a yellow and green outer box, which contained a white bottle with red and white capsules. The product's label carries an invalid Malaysian Product Registration Number "MAL05121196T". The label also contains inaccurate information regarding its manufacturer and distributor.

HSA's investigation revealed that the a 70-year-old elderly female patient had poor diabetic control with increased glucose levels as a result of taking the product. The patient was also reported to have developed varicose vein with blood clots, rapid weight gain, and increased appetite after starting the product. The symptoms are similar to the adverse effects caused by the prolonged use of the corticosteroid, dexamethasone. The patient has since stopped consuming the product and is recovering from the adverse effects.

Unsupervised and long-term use of dexamethasone, which is an anti-inflammatory medicine, can cause harmful effects such as increased blood glucose level, high blood pressure, muscle damage, mental disorders and weak bones leading to osteoporosis. The adverse effects of chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine commonly found in cold medications, include drowsiness, confusion, and urinary retention.

The HAS said, through a press release, that dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine are potent medicinal products that should be prescribed by healthcare professionals. Patients taking these products should be under medical supervision. Dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine are substances controlled under the Poisons Act. It is an offence for an unlicensed person to import, sell, or possess for sale any product containing these substances.

HSA strongly advised consumers who have taken the product to seek medical attention if they feel unwell or are concerned about their health.

Source: Health Sciences Authority