Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore has alerted people not to purchase two products sold online as candy as they contain a medicinal ingredient used to treat erectile dysfunction.
“HSA’s laboratory detected very high levels of tadalafil, an undeclared potent medicinal ingredient used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction in the products Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy,” said HSA in a press release.
The amount of tadalafil was up to 30 times higher than the usual prescribed daily dose. Consuming such high levels of tadalafil is dangerous and would increase the risk of serious adverse effects, including heart attacks, stroke, vision and hearing loss.
HSA was alerted to ‘Hickel’ by a journalist, while ‘Soloco’ was detected by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) at the Woodlands Checkpoint when a 29-year old woman tried to bring the product into Singapore.
Investigations showed that both products- Hickel and Solomon Island Soloco Traditional Candy were sold on various local e-commerce and social media platforms including Facebook. Both products were advertised online to be “100% natural” and “pure plant formula” with “no side effects”.
They were also marketed in a manner to mislead consumers into thinking that they were candies, with exaggerated claims to improve cardiovascular and kidney health, diabetic conditions, vitality, fertility and immunity. HSA is working with the administrators of the local online platforms to remove the product listings.
In 2017, a similar illegal product, ‘Candy B’, was seized and tested by HSA to contain tadalafil.
‘Hickel’ and ‘Soloco’ were promoted to be “better than Candy B”. Both products’ contents were packaged individually in attractive wrappers inside tin containers or boxes.
“Nutritional information”, and food or quality certification marks like the UK Food Standards Agency logo and the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) logo respectively, were also printed on the packaging. ‘Soloco’ was also affixed with a QR verification code for authenticity checks.
Tadalafil is a potent prescription medicine used to treat male erectile dysfunction and it should only be used under medical supervision. Inappropriate use of tadalafil without medical supervision would put consumers at increased risk of serious adverse effects. They include low blood pressure, stroke, heart attack and priapism (painful and exceedingly long erections). Tadalafil can pose serious risks to certain patients, including those with heart-related problems.
HSA has also issued advisory to the people to stop taking ‘Hickel’ and ‘Soloco’ immediately and consult a doctor if they feel unwell. If they experience any adverse effects or are concerned about their health after using the affected product, please see a doctor as soon as possible.
It has also advised people to be wary of health products that promise miraculous effects, carry exaggerated claims, or are marketed to be “100% natural” with “no side effects”. Such products may contain undeclared potent ingredients or prescription medicines that should be used under medical supervision.
HSA has also issued warning to all the sellers and suppliers that they must stop selling ‘Hickel’ and ‘Soloco’ immediately as these are illegal products which contain potent medicinal ingredients.
“Anyone who supplies illegal health products is liable to prosecution and if convicted, may be imprisoned for up to 3 years and/or fined up to SGD100,000,” said HSA.
Members of the public who have any information on the sale and supply of these illegal products may contact HSA's Enforcement Branch at Tel: 6866-3485 during office hours (Monday to Friday) or email: email@example.com.