HSA warns public not to buy weight loss supplements online

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has issued a disclaimer in public interest, urging people not to purchase or consume ‘VIP Bio Mangosteen Complex’, a weight loss product sold online. The product was tested by HSA and found to contain very high levels of a prohibited western medicine, sibutramine, and another potent undeclared western medicine, phenolphthalein.

VIP Bio Mangosteen Complex can lead to heart attacks and seizures.

‘VIP Bio Mangosteen Complex’ is labelled to contain only natural ingredients, including fruit and herbal extracts. The product claims to deliver “immediate changes after around 7 days and significant results in 21 days”. HSA’s investigations revealed that the product is sold on several websites and popular social media platforms carrying testimonials of its weight loss effects. 

Dangerous effects 
Sibutramine is a weight loss medicine that has been disallowed for sale in Singapore since 2010 due to serious safety concerns associated with cardiovascular risks. The high levels of sibutramine detected in ‘VIP Bio Mangosteen Complex’ could make it very toxic and cause serious adverse effects such as heart attacks and seizures. 

In the past, several consumers had reported having hallucinations or hearing voices after consuming other health products adulterated with high levels of sibutramine. Other possible adverse effects include high blood pressure, increased heart rate, irregular heartbeat, anxiety, depression and mood swings.

While HSA has not received any adverse event reports associated with ‘VIP Bio Mangosteen Complex’ locally, the use of other slimming products adulterated with high levels of sibutramine have led to consumers being hospitalised both locally and overseas. Before it was banned, sibutramine was a prescription medicine used as an appetite suppressant to manage obesity.