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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Singapore: HSA alerts public to three adulterated products purchased overseas which led to four patients being hospitalised
The Singapore Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is alerting members of the public not to purchase or consume three health products bought in Malaysia that were tested to contain several undeclared western medicinal ingredients, including a potent steroid and several prescription only medicines. Four patients were hospitalised for serious conditions, including liver injury and metabolic disorder, after consuming them.

The three adulterated products are:
• ‘Snake Powder Capsules’ (‘蛇毒血清丸’): contain undeclared dexamethasone, chloramphenicol, chlorpheniramine, ibuprofen, and tetracycline
• ‘JC Gold’ (‘金丹’): contain undeclared dexamethasone, dexchlorpheniramine, and frusemide
• ‘Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian’ (‘四川商標杜仲巴吉片’): contain undeclared dexamethasone, chlorpheniramine, and frusemide

Two family members were hospitalised for about a week, after consuming ‘Snake Powder Capsules’ for three weeks. The daughter, in her 30s, developed drug-induced hepatitis or inflammation of the liver, and the father, in his 50s, had liver injury.

A patient in her 60s was hospitalised for about a week after consuming ‘JC Gold’ for about four months. She developed Cushing’s syndrome, a metabolic disorder characterised by round face or ‘moon face’, upper body obesity with thin limbs, and high blood glucose. The presence of dexamethasone (a potent steroid) in the product is likely to have contributed to her medical condition.

Another male patient in his 70s was hospitalised for Cushing’s syndrome for over a week after taking ‘Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian’ for a few years to help with lower limb weakness. Similar to ‘JC Gold’, ‘Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian’ was found to contain dexamethasone, which could have caused Cushing’s syndrome in the patient.

‘Snake Powder Capsules’ purportedly contain natural ingredients, including a protein found in various snake species’ venom, and was touted to treat a variety of illnesses, such as pneumonia, hepatitis, shingles, kidney disease, skin problems, joint pain and rheumatism. ‘JC Gold’ is marketed for joint pains and labelled to contain various natural herbs. ‘Tu Cho Pan Chi Pian’ is labelled to treat rheumatic joint pain, backache and numbness of the limbs. All three products were purchased overseas, either by the patients themselves or through their friends or relatives.

Dexamethasone is a potent steroid that is usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions, and should only be used under strict medical supervision. It was one of the undeclared ingredients found in all three products. Long-term unsupervised use of such an oral steroid can cause Cushing’s syndrome, increased blood glucose levels leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cataracts, muscular and bone disorders, and an increased risk of infections.

Members of the public who have purchased or are consuming these products are advised to consult a doctor as soon as possible. Do not stop the use of any of the three products immediately as sudden discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure, especially if they have been consumed for more than a few weeks.

Please refer to the following website in HSA for details:

In Hong Kong, the above products are not registered pharmaceutical products.

Ends/ Friday, September 02, 2016
Issued at HKT 17:00
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