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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 (with photo)
The Department of Health (DH) today (April 17) 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 22-year-old female patient who had a history of consuming unlabelled slimming products obtained through the above means. The DH commenced investigation immediately.

"The patient attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Tuen Mun Hospital on April 8 because of palpitation. She was found to have hypokalaemia after admission. She described a history of consumption of the above slimming products, and sibutramine metabolites and bisacodyl metabolites were detected in her urine sample. Thus, a drug-related adverse effect was suspected clinically. She was transferred to Castle Peak Hospital for treatment of an unrelated condition on April 10 and is in stable condition now," a DH spokesman said.

"The HA's laboratory test on the product samples showed the presence of undeclared or banned Western medicines in four kinds of the products, including sibutramine, hydrochlorothiazide, fluoxetine and bisacodyl. Preliminary investigations revealed that a friend of the patient purchased the slimming products from the Internet. The products were allegedly obtained from a hospital in Thailand. The DH's investigation is continuing," the spokesman added.

"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. Bisacodyl is a laxative that may cause abdominal pain," 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.

Ends/Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:22