An analysis by HSA detected Gu Jie Ling contained dexamethasone (steroid) and cetirizine (antihistamine) – both potent medicinal ingredients. 

The authority said that dexamethasone is a potent steroid that is “usually prescribed for inflammatory conditions and should only be used under strict medical supervision”.

“Long-term unsupervised use of steroids can cause increased blood sugar levels (which may lead to diabetes), high blood pressure, cataracts, muscular and bone disorders, an increased risk of infections and Cushing’s syndrome.”

The sudden discontinuation of steroids without proper medical supervision can cause serious withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, confusion and low blood pressure, said HSA. 

Potent steroids may also suppress the normal production of cortisol, a natural steroid hormone produced by the body, which can lead to adrenal insufficiency. That in turn might result in fatigue, generalised weakness, muscle and joint pain, low blood pressure, fits or shock, HSA noted.

Cetirizine, an antihistamine used to relieve allergic reactions, should also be used under medical supervision. Adverse effects stemming from its use include drowsiness and fatigue, it added.

HSA also said that the product was also labelled with a Malaysian product registration number, “which gave the impression that the product was registered by the Malaysian health authority”. 

“However, the registration number stated was not valid based on HSA’s checks on the Malaysian health authority’s website, suggesting that it may be an illegal product,” said the authority. HSA has alerted its Malaysian counterpart to the product.

HSA urged people to see a doctor as soon as possible if they are taking Gu Jie Ling.

“Do not stop taking the product on your own as sudden stopping of the product without medical supervision may result in the worsening of underlying medical conditions or other serious withdrawal conditions,” it said.

“All sellers and suppliers must stop selling this product immediately.

“HSA will not hesitate to take stern enforcement actions against anyone who sells and supplies products found to be adulterated with potent medicinal ingredients.” 

Sellers and suppliers are liable to prosecution and if convicted, they may be jailed for up to two years and/or fined up to S$10,000 (US$7,500). 

HSA said on Tuesday more than 1.12 million units of illegal health products were seized and over 12,000 listings of illegal health products were removed from local e-commerce and social media platforms last year.  


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