Saturday, 23 February 2008

Health warning: Power 1 Walnut

I first heard about this new, crazy pill called Power 1 Walnut several days ago. Made in China of supposedly herbal ingredients, it was being touted as an alternative to that little blue pill called Viagra.

The pill, which has since been found to plunge blood sugar levels instead of boosting sex drive, has made at least one man critically ill and landed 39 more in various hospitals around Singapore.

One of those hospitalised was Lee, who said he bought the pills from vendors “in a lane between Rowell and Desker roads”. Ahh...Desker Road. That infamous blot in Singapore that continues to resist the government's attempts at ridding it of its reputation. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, my Singaporean chess friends - I won't mention names as some are moving in rather high circles today - brought me on a visual tour of the back streets of Desker. Rather eye-opening.

Anyway, this chap said that his friends had tried the pill months ago and it worked. So he decided to have a go at it. It worked so well for him that he took it a second time. Then a third time.

However, after his third dose, he started having side effects. Trembling hands, tiredness, sleepiness. Yet, around Chinese New Year, he took two pills before visiting a prostitute. “This time, I felt like I was constantly drunk. I wanted to go see a doctor but the waiting line was too long. I took two Panadols instead.”

All he remembered next was being in an ambulance on its way to a hospital where it was tested that his blood sugar level had plunged dangerously low.

Lee could consider himself lucky. Another man is critically ill in hospital diagnosed with a stroke after taking the drug. All of the cases known in Singapore were of men aged between 30 and 70, and they displayed symptoms of low blood-sugar level. A low blood sugar level, if not treated in time, can lead to unconsciousness, fits or even death.

I wouldn't know whether this same Power 1 Walnut drug is available in Malaysia but I wouldn't count against it. I'm sure it would've already made its way around the underground circles and a tragedy is only waiting to be unearthed here as well.

It's time the health authorities in Malaysia do something fast to uncover the extent of its presence and take the necessary action against unscrupulous persons hawking it. For once, be proactive instead of reactive.

From what I've read so far, it's made by China company Guangzhou Xinkuaili. The pill is supposed to contain herbal ingredients but it's been found to contain controlled drugs like glibenclamide (a prescription drug for diabetes) and sildenafil. Yes, sildenafil. Better known by its commercial name, Viagra.


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