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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Retail shop raided for illegal sale of slimming product with banned drug ingredient (with photo)
A retail shop in Causeway Bay was raided today (January 29) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for selling a slimming product named "Slim fast" which is suspected to contain an undeclared and banned drug substance.

During the DH's surveillance programme, a sample of the product concerned was obtained from the retail shop for analysis. Analytical results from the Government Laboratory revealed that the slimming product contains phenolphthalein, a banned drug ingredient. During the operation, other capsules of different colours with the same packing label "Slim fast" were also found. All were seized for further analysis. A 33-year-old woman was arrested for suspected illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical product.

Phenolphthalein was used previously to treat constipation, but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect.

The investigation is continuing.

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 sold legally in the market. Illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

A DH spokesperson strongly urged members of the public not to buy products of unknown or doubtful composition, or consume products from unknown sources. All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the label 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.

"People who have purchased the above product should stop using it immediately and consult health-care professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell after using the product concerned. They can submit the product 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," the spokesman said.

"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 said.

Ends/Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 19:15


A slimming product named "Slim fast", which is suspected to contain an undeclared and banned drug substance.