The Malaysian Health Ministry and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) have urged the public to avoid using ‘Aman Liquid’, a traditional product used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, after its registration was cancelled by the Drug Control Authority (DCA) on 27 September.

The cancellation was made following the detection of a poisonous substance under the Scheduled Poison List in the product, known as Yohimbine.

Health DG: Yohimbine a poison that can lead to a range of adverse effects

“Yohimbine is a type of alkaloid normally found in puasinystalia yohimbe tree and used to treat erectile dysfunction,” explained health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a statement, adding that the substance is not permitted in medicines classified as traditional.

“The consumption of the poison could lead to serious adverse effect such as increase in blood pressure and increased heart rate,” said Noor Hisham. “It can also be dangerous to pregnant women, and those with high blood pressure, heart, kidney and liver problems.”

Dealers to stop distribution and sale of the product immediately

The ministry has issued a warning to distributors and sellers to stop the sale and distribution of the product with immediate effect.

“They should be mindful that selling this banned product is a violation under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, which carries a maximum fine of RM25,000 or three years’ jail term, or both and RM50,000 or five years, or both for the subsequent offence,” he stressed.

“Errant companies can be fined up to RM50,000 for the first offence and RM100,000 for the subsequent offence,” he added.

Public to be aware of health risks in traditional products

This is not the first time a hazardous substance was identified in traditional ‘health’ products in Malaysia.

As recently as September of this year, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) of Singapore warned the public against consumption of three ‘health’ products, after four Singaporeans were hospitalised for serious health conditions following consumption of the aforementioned supplements.

The products, which were readily available in Malaysia, were found to contain undeclared medical ingredients, including dexamethasone and other medicines that were only allowed prescription by qualified doctors. Commonly found in unauthorised traditional products, consumption of inappropriate amounts of dexamethasone without proper medical supervision can cause an array of adverse health effects and lead to Cushing’s syndrome, a metabolic disorder.

In April 2015, the Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) alerted citizens of the illegal advertising of illicit health products by unscrupulous parties, who often abuse the platform to falsely advertise promising cures for cancer, sustained weight loss as well as increased sexual performance.

“It is a challenge… to curb these illegal ads as the publication does not take place through legitimate channels,” said the ministry in a statement, referring to the unregulated advertisements found in public places such as bus stops, lamp posts, on websites as well as printed leaflets.

Nonetheless, the ministry said that it is keeping a close eye on such advertisements. In 2011 alone, the MOH produced a total of 204 warning letters; of which 41 cases were brought to court and fined a cumulative sum of RM 56,800. MIMS

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