Health Sciences Authority alerts public to illegal and adulterated capsules

Three people ended up in trouble, with one landing himself in the intensive care unit (ICU), after taking illegal capsules they got from friends and street peddlers, thinking they were meant for pain relief.

Unknown to them, the capsules were adulterated with dexamethasone, a very potent anti-inflammatory steroid which should only be taken under strict supervision from doctors. The adverse side effects include increased blood glucose leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, eye, muscular and bone disorders, and can cause serious symptoms upon withdrawal.

In issuing a warning on Thursday morning, the Health Sciences Authority said the reported cases involved patients aged between 40 and 80.

The patient who was in critical condition was a man in his 80s who bought the capsules from a peddler here. He was diagnosed by a doctor to have developed serious complications of Cushing’s syndrome after consuming the adulterated capsules for about one year for the relief of chronic back pain. He was warded in the ICU for complications resulting from chronic unsupervised steroid consumption.

The second patient, in his 40s, took the capsules which he purchased from his friend for pain relief of gout. As a consequence of long-term consumption of the capsules, his bones were affected and he sustained a fracture requiring surgery.

The third case involved a woman in her 50s who experienced rapid pain relief for her stiff neck after consuming only a few of the illegal capsules. Her family member immediately suspected that the product was adulterated and reported the case to HSA. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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