The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) have warned the public against the use of Za’faran, an unregistered traditional medicine that was found to contain dexamethasone and chlorpheniramine, both of which are controlled under the Poisons Act 1952.

Sudden cessation of product may cause withdrawal syndrome

The examination of the product was performed by the NPRA following complaints of adverse effects by users, caused by electrolyte imbalance that subsequently led to palpitations and muscle weakness.

“The long-term use of dexamethosone without a doctor’s monitoring could lead to serious consequences such as muscle weakness, bone fragility, rise in blood sugar levels. High blood pressure, cataracts and increase infections as well as Cushing Syndrome,” said health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

“Chlorpheniramine is an antihistamine used to relieve the flu and allergic reactions such as rashes. Side effects of chlorpheniramine include sleepiness, blurred vision and vomiting,” he also said, urging for users of the product to seek immediate medical assistance from a healthcare professional.

Additionally, those who have been using the product for long periods of time have also been advised against sudden disuse of the product, but to gradually wean off, as doing so may cause withdrawal syndrome and have dangerous health effects.

Public urged to check registration of product before use

This is not the first traditional medicine to reach consumers despite being unregistered, most of which also contained ingredients that were strictly controlled.

The public has been advised once more to refrain from purchasing or using products that are unregistered with the Drug Control Authority (PBKD) as the quality and safety of the product is not assured, and has been reminded to be more cautious of traditional medicines that promise fast and effective cures against various illnesses.

The MOH has since put up a poster, urging the public to be watchful of drug advertisements on social media and reminding users to check that the advertisements and medications are registered with the Medicine Advertisement Board and MOH respectively before purchasing the product. MIMS

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