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Food Supplement Products Which Are Mixed With Banned Substances

Food supplement products may be in the form of food, drink or vitamin consumed to enhance body cell growth, general health control and to prevent diseases. They also serve as diet supplementation as they provide nutrients such as vitamin, mineral, fibre, fatty acid and amino acid, which could be potentially loss or insufficient in one’s diet.

Food supplement products are not regulated under Poison Act 1952. They are under control of Food Safety and Quality Division, Ministry of Health. The division monitors and takes action for any offense related to acts regulated by them. However, food or drink supplements which are known to be mixed with substances that are regulated under Poison Act 1952 will be monitored and controlled by Pharmacy Enforcement Division (PED), Ministry of Health. This division, on the other hand, will take necessary actions to any products manufacturer or importer who has offended the law.

From the surveillance done by PED, there are various slimming products in the market sold as food supplements but marketed with several medicinal claims. Food supplement products are not allowed to have any medicinal claim, for example, possess slimming properties and able to enhance men sexual drive. Slimming agent that is commonly mixed into food supplements is sibutramine while substances that are used in product to increase sexual performance include sildenafil, taladafil and the analogues.

Side effect of banned substances in food supplement products

Sibutramine is previously registered product in Malaysia and was used as an adjunct therapy; together with diet control and physical training, to obese patients with co-morbidities (i.e. diabetes mellitus and hypertension). However, Sibutramine has been banned in Malaysian market and several other countries since 2010 as it increases the risk of getting heart attack and stroke, especially among those with underlying cardiovascular diseases. Other side effects of sibutramine are sleep disturbances, depression, seizure and it can cause liver and kidney impairment. Despite being banned from the market, recently sibutramine has been found in traditional and food supplement products. This is alarming because the consumers do not know if the product contains sibutramine as the content is not mentioned on the label.

Sildenafil, taladafil and the analogues can only be used with valid prescription by doctor upon a clinical and medical assessment. These agents can cause sudden death in susceptible person if taken without doctor’s supervision. In Malaysia, they are originally used as a treatment for impotent (erectile dysfunction) in men but they are now misused as a way to gain sexual satisfaction.

Consumers are strongly advised to stop taking any products containing sildenafil, taladafil or the analogues, as they may lead to hypotension whereby consumer will experience dizziness and syncopal attack. When they are used in combination with nitrate compound from same or different products, they are at risk to cause sudden death and heart attack. Therefore, to use these products without supervision is too risky.


Confusion among consumers arises when there are so many false or inappropriate medicinal claims made by irresponsible sellers, although their products are not even classified as medicinal products. So, it is important for you to know that the claims are actually their deception strategy to gain profit. These sellers often claim their products possess therapeutic effects even though there is no study done to prove such claims. This is all because they realize that consumer nowadays begins to be health conscious.

Consumers are advised not to believe and be manipulated by the advertisements and testimonial made by celebrity or hired ambassador. The testimonies should not be taken completely because some of the claims and promises from the testimonies are purposely created in such way to attract consumers’ attention and subsequently to make them buy the products. Some of the claims are false and not supported by scientific evidence.

You should consult the pharmacist or doctor for accurate information regarding the food or health supplement products. Such information is essential to ensure food supplements are save for consumption. You should also check the label of food supplement products before buying it.


  • Poison Act 1952
  • Sale of Drugs Act 1952
Last Reviewed : 19 October 2017
Translator : Mohd Shahiri bin Abd Ghapar
Accreditor : Munira bt. Muhammad