June 2008


The Internet is so convenient, so easy but yet it is so dangerous.

It came to light in Singapore that a man and a woman in their early 20s had suffered symptoms of psychosis such as hearing of voices, hallucinations, confusion and thyrotoxic symptoms such as anxiety and increased heart rate after using a product named Relacore, a product they bought over the Internet.

So what is wrong with this anti-‘belly fat and stress control’ dietary supplement?

This product was not declared to have included a Western drug, a potent substance known as Sibutramine. Sibutramine is a prescription drug marketed under trade names such as Meridia in the USA, Leptos in India, Reductil (read Want to slim down? Don’t count on weigh-loss drugs) in Europe and other countries. It is used as an appetite suppressant in the management of obesity. That means that it works by making you feel more ‘full’ with less food (it reduces appetite and enhances satiety).

On Wikipedia, it is documented that frequent encountered side effects from sibutramine are: dry mouth, paradoxically increased appetite, nausea, strange taste in the mouth, anorgasmia and delayed ejaculation, upset stomach, constipation, trouble sleeping, dizziness, drowsiness, menstrual cramps/pain, headache, flushing, or joint/muscle pain.

It can substantially increase blood pressure and pulse in some patients. Therefore all patients treated with sibutramine should have regular monitoring of blood pressure and pulse.

Infrequent but serious ones that require immediate medical attention: cardiac arrhythmias, paresthesia, mental/mood changes (e.g., excitement, restlessness, confusion, depression, rare thoughts of suicide).

Symptoms that require urgent medical attention are seizures, problems urinating, abnormal bruising or bleeding, melena, hematemesis, jaundice, fever and rigors, chest pain, hemiplegia, abnormal vision, dyspnea and edema.

Could what they have consumed a counterfeit version? Health Science Authority (HSA) is investigating now. In HSA’s press release today, it has said that Given the borderless nature of the Internet and the ease with which this product could be bought and sold in different countries around the world, HSA has alerted its international network of enforcement counterparts to be on a lookout for the adulterated product and where appropriate, to act against websites selling this product within their respective jurisdictions.”

This is the second case in the last 6 years concerning slimming product that created adverse reaction. Slim 10 pills in 2002 hit headlines in Singapore after it killed a woman and caused severe liver damage to local actress Andrea De Cruz which would have killed her if not for an emergency liver transplant done with the liver donation from her then-fiance actor Pierre Png (now husband). The China-made diet pills contained fenfluramine, an appetite suppressant that has been banned in the U.S. since 1997 for damaging heart valves and which doctors later confirmed also caused liver failure.

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MAKING SIMPLE SALADS
Learn easy and versatile salad recipes that are inexpensive and nutritious. At this workshop, you’ll have a hands-on experience in making an all-in-one salad meal, seaweed salad rolls and herbal salad in tomato cups.

Date: 18 June 2008
Time: 4pm to 5pm
Venue: Bishan Junction 8 Office Tower, #06-05
Fee/Registration: $20. Registration required.
Call 6250 1012.  Open to women 40 and above only.

INTERNATIONAL FALLS AWARENESS DAY
Each year, one in three people above the age of 65 experience a fall. At this event by Tan Tock Seng Hospital, learn more about how to reduce your risk of falling, how to fall-proof your home and the strategies in keeping your loved ones safe from falls.

Date: June 24
Time: 9.30am to 3.30pm
Venue: Tan Tock Seng Hospital Atrium
Fee/Registration: Free.

KIDS AT PLAY ON FRIDAYS
This play-and-learn programme guarantees loads of fun and excitement for the little ones. They can try their hands at different health discovery activities and take part in a treasure hunt.

Date: Fri
Time: 9am to 5pm
Venue: HealthZone, Level 2, Health Promotion Board, 3 Second Hospital Avenue
Fee/Registration: $2

*** extracted from TODAY newspapers 17 June 2008.

Its advertisements were pretty attractive in English and Chinese. Its target market is practically the whole world of people (yes, it has Halal certification to cater to the world’s Muslim community) with “Symptoms of Cell Deterioration” – nocturia, lethargy, urinal disability, arthritis, incompetence, fatigue, skin aging, obesity, cold-averse). Its news coverage is all over the Internet. It had been sold through the Internet and possibly through multi-level-marketing (MLM).

Some of its online promotions have even stated that a certified laboratory in Singapore has tested that it is not adulterated withAphrodisiac Western Medicines or Illegal Drug Ingredients” and that it was “categorized as food and no MAL number is required” (MAL number is a approval number issued by the Ministry of Health of Malaysia). As listed on some promotional pages, it is stated that its main ingredient is the “Ginseng of The Desert” (Cynomorium Songaricum ) which “Helps invigorates the kidney and supplements essence for kidney YANG and insufficiency of blood manifested as impotence, nourishes the intestine and relaxes the bowels“. Other ingredients include “Ginseng Extract, Hydrolysed Protein, Enzyme, Pomegranate, Polyphenol, Malt“.

Why then would post-market analysis by the Health Science Authority (HSA) of Singapore proved otherwise for Mentalk, “The World First Energizing Candy” ? HSA’s press release on their website stated they found the presence of “Aminotadalafil, which is chemically similar to tadalafil,” It “can cause serious adverse reactions such as heart attacks and strokes in susceptible individuals. Heart patients who are on nitrate drugs may suffer severe hypotension which may be fatal.

What is more worrying as HSA put it was that As the product is marketed as a food-like item, there is potential danger to the wider population if the candy is unwittingly eaten by consumers, including teenagers and young children. . One of its advertisement stated “One world, One Candy”.

As of this writing, follow-up actions by HSA and relevant authorities are underway.

Is it a case of trying to cheat passed the health authorities by submitting a truly safe sample for the lab test and then launching the adulterated version ? If so, it really took guts to have so many ads and one of them to state that “Mentalk does not contain any steroid, western or illegal drug ingredients”.

Or is this a case of product that fell short of its effectiveness after launching and thus with the pressure to maintain the growth plan after pouring some much into the marketing of it, a decision was made to “refine” the product resulting in the adding of extra undeclared ingredients into the formula? If so, it is really foolish to do it in countries like Singapore where our HSA and AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) are very proactive in conducting post-market survey and analysis of products, especially those that are too good to be true. HSA has been doing public education and awareness campaign.

Oh, I am surprised that Mentalk had included the actual Singapore ALS Laboratory report in their advertisement. Didn’t the report has the same statement “This report cannot be used for advertising purposes.” printed at the top of each of their test reports just like those from laboratories of HSA and SGH (Singapore General Hospital), etc.

Well, Members of the public are strongly advised not to buy or eat ‘Mentalk’ candy. If they have already purchased the candy, they should throw it away immediately. If they feel unwell after eating this candy, they are urged to seek medical advice as soon as possible.

For more update on this candy issue, visit http://www.hsa.gov.sg