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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Girl arrested for suspected illegal sale of unlabelled slimming products with controlled drug ingredients (with photo)
A 15-year-old girl was arrested today (June 7) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for suspected illegal sale of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products. The products sold were unlabelled slimming products suspected to contain controlled drug ingredients.

Upon DH's investigation of a public complaint previously, samples of products claimed for slimming purpose were purchased for analysis from a seller through communication over a mobile phone application. Test results showed that the products contained western medicines, namely hydrochlorothiazide and fluoxetine respectively. The seller alleged that the slimming products were obtained from Thailand. She was arrested by the Police in the operation today.

The DH's investigation is continuing.

"Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic used for the treatment of hypertension and it may cause hypotension and electrolyte imbalance. Fluoxetine is used for depression and may cause hallucination and insomnia . Hydrochlorothiazide and fluoxetine are both Part I poisons that should only be supplied at pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist upon a doctor's prescription," a DH spokesman explained.

According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong (the Board) before they can be legally sold in the market. Illegal sale of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

The spokesman strongly urged members of the public not to buy or consume slimming products of unknown or doubtful composition or from unknown sources. Those who have purchased such products should stop taking them immediately and consult healthcare professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell. All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of "HK-XXXXX". Unregistered pharmaceutical products have not been evaluated by the Board and their safety, quality and efficacy may not be guaranteed.

"Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. The public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control," the spokesman advised.

Ends/Saturday, June 7, 2014
Issued at HKT 17:45