BANNED SUBSTANCES FOUND IN SLIMMING PILLS SOLD ONLINE

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is warning members of the public not to purchase an illegal weight loss product sold online, called beFIT Total Garcinia Cambogia.

The product, sold on local websites and social media platforms, is touted to help in weight loss and is proclaimed to contain garcinia cambogia fruit extract as the main ingredient to “support appetite control” and “inhibit fat production”.

HSA said it tested the product, and found it to contain two potent and undeclared ingredients – sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

“Sibutramine, a prescription only weight loss drug, has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to serious safety concerns,” HSA said. “Furthermore, the very high level of sibutramine detected in ‘beFIT Total Garcinia Cambogia’ could increase the toxicity of this product and lead to serious cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and fits. Changes in mood such as anxiety, depression and mood swings have also been reported.”

Although HSA has received no adverse reports associated with the slimming pills, hospitalisations following the use of other slimming products adulterated with sibutramine have been reported both locally and overseas, it said.

Phenolphthalein on the other hand, has been used medicinally as a laxative, but is no longer in use in Singapore. HSA said that it may cause rashes, abdominal cramps, breathing difficulties, kidney disorders and has been found in animal studies to be associated with cancer.

“Illegal health products such as ‘beFIT Total Garcinia Cambogia’ are generally produced under poor manufacturing conditions with no quality control. It cannot be ascertained where and how these products were made,” the authority added.

A seller of the product is currently assisting HSA with investigations. If convicted of selling the illegal product, he or she may face a penalty fine of up to S$10,000 and jail of up to two years under the Poisons Act, as well as maximum fine of S$5,000 and up to two years’ prison under the Medicines Act.

Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of beFIT Total Garcinia Cambogia or other illegal products may contact HSA’s Enforcement Branch at 6866-3485 or email: [email protected]

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