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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Public urged not to buy or use slimming products with undeclared and banned drug ingredients
The Department of Health (DH) today (June 6) appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume unlabelled slimming products or products with uncertain ingredients obtained from the Internet, as they may contain undeclared and banned drug ingredients that are dangerous to health.

The appeal followed the DH's receipt of notification from the Hospital Authority (HA) about a 19-year-old female patient attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital on May 24 because of palpitations. She described a history of consuming seven kinds of unlabelled slimming products obtained through the Internet. Thus, a drug-related adverse effect was suspected clinically. The patient was discharged on May 25 after treatment.

"Among the seven products, the HA's laboratory test on the product samples showed the presence of undeclared or banned drug ingredients including sibutramine, hydrochlorothiazide, fluoxetine, chlorpheniramine and bisacodyl in six products. Also, animal thyroid tissues were found in another product. Preliminary investigations by the DH revealed that the patient purchased the slimming products from the Internet. The products were allegedly obtained from a hospital in Thailand. Investigation is continuing," a DH spokesman said.

"Sibutramine is a Part I poison and was once a Western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, all products containing sibutramine have been banned because of an increased cardiovascular risk. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic and is also used for the treatment of hypertension. It may cause hypotension and electrolyte imbalance. Fluoxetine is used for depression and may cause postural hypotension and alopecia. It must be sold with prescriptions at pharmacies under the supervision of pharmacists. Chlorpheniramineis an over-the-counter Western drug commonly used for relieving allergic symptoms. The most well-known side effect is drowsiness. Bisacodyl is a laxative that may cause abdominal pain. As for animal thyroid tissues, they are not an appropriate agent for weight reduction," the spokesman explained.

The spokesman urged members of the public who have purchased the above products to stop using them immediately. In addition, they are advised not to buy or consume products of unknown composition or from doubtful sources. People who are feeling unwell or in doubt after using the products should consult health-care professionals. They can submit the products to the Drug Office of the DH at Room 1856, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, during office hours for disposal.

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