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Tests Find Food Supplements Sold Online in Thailand Laced with Dangerous Drugs

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Foundation for Consumers announced yesterday that many food supplement companies claims to help with weight loss or sexual potency and distributed via popular online platforms contain dangerous drugs.

The foundation said that these food supplements are sold online via Lazada, WeMall, Shopee, 411estore as well as Watsons and that apart from risking their health, buyers may also face legal action if they are found to have these items in their possession, The Nation reports.

The foundation called on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday to impose the harshest penalties possible on the sellers.

The call followed tests conducted by the foundation’s Chalad Sue (Smart Buying) magazine, which found that many food supplements being sold online were harmful. The magazine’s product-and -service-monitoring project, recently examined 15 weight-loss supplements advertised online.

Three products – sold under S-Line, Chaliew2 and Deli by NQ Brand – were found to contain the psychoactive agent sibutramine, which is usually used to treat depression.

The side-effects, however, are high blood pressure, risk of stroke and heart problems.

Under the law, sellers of sibutramine can face a jail term of four to 20 years plus fines of Bt400,000 to Bt2 million. Those found to be in possession of the drug are liable to a jail term of one to five years and/or a fine of Bt10,000 to Bt100,000. Consumers can also face a jail term of up to three years and/or a maximum fine of Bt60,000.

The project also examined 10 supplements that claim to address impotency. Supplements sold under the brands Draco, Plays, MO CHA, So Cool, OMG, CHU, Vitalmax and Vitality Reborn were found to contain the controlled substances, sildenafil, tadalafil or vardenafil, that have severe side-effects such as headaches, sudden hypotension and arrhythmia. These products can prove to be fatal if used by people with heart problems, blood-pressure issues or diabetes.

The Foundation of Consumers said that though sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil can be sold to consumers, the FDA should still take action against those selling supplements tainted with these substances.

“Since they contain drugs, these products cannot be considered pure food supplements according to the Foods Act of BE 2522,” the foundation said, adding that the sellers should face up to two years in jail and a fine of Bt20,000.

“They should also be held responsible for violating legal stipulations on labelling,” it added.

Offences related to false labelling are punishable by six months to 10 years in jail plus a fine of Bt5,000 to Bt100,000.

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