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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Public urged not to buy or consume unlabelled slimming products with controlled ingredients (with photo)
The Department of Health (DH) today (August 27) appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume unlabelled slimming products that may contain controlled medicine ingredients.

Upon the earlier investigation of public complaints, it was found that two local Internet sellers have been offering for sale various unlabelled slimming products obtained overseas. Samples of the products were purchased for analysis and test results showed that some products contained Part I poisons including frusemide, fluoxetine, thyroxine and omeprazole.

The DH conducted joint operations with the Police against these Internet sellers last night (August 26) and today. During the operations last night and today, a 33-year-old woman and two 22-year-old men were respectively arrested for illegal sale of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products.

The investigation is continuing.

Frusemide is used for the treatment of heart diseases and its side effects include low blood pressure and electrolyte imbalance. Fluoxetine is used for treatment of mood disorder and may cause hallucination and insomnia. Thyroxine is used for the treatment of hypothyroidism and its side effects include fast/irregular heart beat and hypertension. Omeprazole is used for managing gastric and duodenal diseases and may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Medicines containing these ingredients should only be supplied by pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist.

According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be legally sold in the market. Illegal sale and possession 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.

A DH spokesman strongly urged members of the public not to buy or consume products of doubtful composition or from unknown sources. 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 are not 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.

People who have purchased these products should stop taking them immediately and consult healthcare professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell. They can submit the products to the DH's Drug Office at Room 1856, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, during office hours for disposal.

Ends/Thursday, August 27, 2015
Issued at HKT 18:15