Red flag raised on adulterated products

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is raising the red flag on three health products and a cosmetic product, after tests conducted by the Laboratory of Pharmacy Section, Department of Scientific Services, MoH, showed them to be adulterated with undeclared, potent Western medicine.

The affected health products are:

– Erat Kasih Sines was found to contain chlorpheniramine, dexamethasone and betamethasone. It is manufactured by Bella Formula Marketing, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

– Pill Gemuk (Orange Tablet – Kalbe) was found to contain Cyproheptadine. Its manufacturer is unknown.

– Pill Gemuk (Yellow Tablet – MEF) was found to contain betamethasone and dexamethasone, with its manufacturer also unknown

– Skin Magical Rejuvenating Set No 3 – Rejuvenating Cream No 3, manufactured in the Philippines, was found to contain hydroquinone.

The adulterant found in these products can cause adverse effects potentially hazardous to the users.

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.

ABOVE & BELOW: Erat Kasih Sines; Pill Gemuk (Orange Tablet – Kalbe) and Pill Gemuk (Yellow Tablet – MEF); and Skin Magical Rejuvenating Set No 3 – Rejuvenating Cream No 3. PHOTOS: MINISTRY OF HEALTH

Unsupervised long-term consumption of potent corticosteroids such as dexamethasone and Betamethasone can cause increase 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.

Cyproheptadine is an antihistamine used in the treatment of allergies. If taken without supervision it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, muscle weakness, hypotension, blurred vision, dry mouth, depression, arrhythmias, increase in appetite and weight gain.

Hydroquinone is used in Western prescription medicines to treat skin conditions and is prohibited in skincare cosmetic products under the Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations. Unsupervised use of Hydroquinone may cause skin hypersensitivity, skin discolouration resulting in gradual darkening of the affected skin area and an increased risk of skin cancer.

The MoH has not issued any approval for the importation for the sale of these products and/or Cosmetic Notification Acknowledgement Letter for the sale of the rest of affected products. Following the findings, the products are not allowed to be imported and sold in Brunei Darussalam.

Members of the public who have purchased or used these 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 them.

Members of the public involved in the retail of these products (including online retail such as through Facebook) are 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.

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.

The public is reminded that it is an offence under the Medicines (Cosmetic Products) Regulations, 2007, to import and market cosmetic products in the local market without a Cosmetic Product Notification Acknowledgement Letter issued by the authority, where the penalty for contravening these regulations upon conviction, is a fine not exceeding BND5,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or both.

The MoH calls for public cooperation in reporting to the Compliance and Licensing Section if any of these products are still found on the market.

For information, contact the Compliance and Licensing Section at 2393298 (ext 208); e-mail [email protected]; go directly to 1st Floor, Compliance and Licensing Section, Department of Pharmaceutical Services’ Building in Kampong Madaras, Mukim Gadong ‘A;’ or call Darussalam line at 123.