Red flag raised on health products in Brunei

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (Borneo Bulletin/ANN) - The Ministry of Health (MoH) alerted members of the public to six health products tested at the laboratory of the Pharmacy Laboratory Services, Laboratory Services, MoH, and found to be adulterated with undeclared substances.

The affected products are: Jus Al Sunnah Gold 1001 Khasiat Jus Alternatif, manufactured by Sri Saga Marketing S/B, Malaysia, which has been adulterated with Dexamethasone; Jus Al Sunnah 1001 Khasiat Jus Alternatif, manufactured by Sri Saga Marketing S/B, Malaysia, which has been adulterated with Dexamethasone; Jus Penawar 1001 Khasiat Jus Alternatif Resdung, manufactured by Sri Saga Marketing S/B, Malaysia, which has been adulterated with Dexamethasone and Chlorpheniramine; Herba Saraf Pil, manufactured by Reshoon Marketing, which has been adulterated with Dexamethasone; Proven Capsule 350mg, manufactured in France, which has been adulterated with Sibutramine and Phenolphthalein; and Royal Café Power Drink, manufactured by Royalife International Sdn Bhd, Malaysia, which has been adulterated with Phenolphthalein.

The adulterants found in these products can cause adverse effects potentially hazardous to its users.

Unsupervised long-term consumption of potent corticosteroids such as Dexamethasone can cause an increase in blood glucose levels leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, cataract, muscular and bone disorders, and an increased risk of infections. Long term use of corticosteroids can also lead to Cushing’s syndrome which is characterised by a round face or ‘moon face’, and upper body obesity with thin limbs.

Consumers who have taken high doses of steroids over a prolonged period of time may suffer from withdrawal symptoms which include fatigue, muscle and joint pain, fever, low blood sugar, low blood pressure and dehydration.

Dizziness, lowering of blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, confusion, depression and convulsions are among the adverse effects that could occur from the unsupervised consumption of Chlorpheniramine.

Sibutramine is a body slimming agent that is no longer recommended for its use in obesity treatment because its effects can be detrimental to the heart and the liver. Intake of Sibutramine can also cause serious adverse effects such as high blood pressure, uncertain heartbeat and difficulty to sleep; and in worst cases, it can cause damage to the kidneys and liver.

Prolonged consumption or overdose of Phenolphthalein can result in diarrhoea with excessive loss of water and electrolytes, and there is also the possibility of developing an atonic non-functioning colon.

Cardiac and respiratory distress, renal damage and hypersensitivity reactions have also been reported with the use of this drug.

The MoH has not issued any approval for the importation for the sale of these products. Following these findings, the products have been banned from being imported or sold in Brunei Darussalam.

Members of the public who purchased or used the products are advised to discontinue use immediately. They should also consult a medical practitioner if they feel unwell or experience undesirable reactions as a result of using the products.

Anyone involved in the retail of these products (including online retail such as through Facebook) are hereby reminded that it is an offence under the Poisons Act 1956 to sell any product containing any substance controlled under the said Act and the penalty for such an offence upon conviction, is a fine of BND8,000 or six months’ imprisonment.

Furthermore, if a person commits an Act that amounts to such a degree of negligence so as to endanger or be likely to endanger human life, then such person shall be guilty of an offence which carries a penalty of a fine of BND16,000 and 12 months’ imprisonment.

Members of the public are urged to report to the Pharmacy Enforcement Section should the products still be found on the market.

For further information and communication, contact the Pharmacy Enforcement Section at 2393298 (ext 208); e-mail; visit the first floor, Department of Pharmaceutical Services Building, Kampong Madaras, Mukim Gadong ‘A’; or call the Darussalam line at 123.