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Products found to contain undeclared medicines

Retail shop raided for suspected illegal sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products with undeclared drug ingredients (with photo)
A retail shop in Tsim Sha Tsui was raided today (March 31) in a joint operation by the Department of Health (DH) and the Police for suspected illegal sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products that contain undeclared Part I poisons.

During the DH's surveillance, samples of two products, namely SLYN Both Plus and SLYN Both, were previously purchased from the retail shop for analysis. Analytical results from the Government Laboratory revealed that both products contained orlistat and fluoxetine. In addition, SLYN Both also contained sibutramine.

Orlistat, fluoxetine and sibutramine are all Part I poisons. Sibutramine was once used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned in Hong Kong because of increased cardiovascular risk. Orlistat is used for the treatment of obesity. Its side effects include faecal urgency, fatty stool, increased frequency of defecation, faecal incontinence, headache and abdominal pain. Severe liver injuries may also be induced. Fluoxetine is used for depression and may cause hallucination and insomnia.

Products containing orlistat and fluoxetine are prescription medicines which must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong before they can be sold legally in the market. Prescription medicines should only be used under the advice of a medical doctor or supplied at pharmacies under the supervision of a registered pharmacist upon doctor's prescription.

During the operation, a woman aged 53 was arrested by the Police for suspected illegal sale and possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products.

The DH's investigation is continuing.

According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), 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.

"People who have purchased the above products should stop using them and consult health-care professionals if they are in doubt or feeling unwell after use. 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. They should not use controlled medicines on their own without advice from a doctor," a DH spokesman said.

The DH spokesman strongly urged members of the public not to buy products of unknown or doubtful composition, or consume products from unknown sources. 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/Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Issued at HKT 19:26