Recall of Chinese herbal medicine containing atropine
28 July 2010
The Department of Health (DH) today (July 28) instructed a licensed Chinese herbal medicine wholesaler Wong Chak Kee Limited to recall Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii from retailers as it was found to contain atropine.
The recall was made following DH’s investigation into a case of poisoning involving a 79-year-old woman who had a history of taking Chinese herbs bought from Wing Woo Hing, a licensed Chinese herbal medicines retailer in Sheung Wan for eczema.
Among the samples taken from Wing Woo Hing for chemical analysis, a sample of Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii tested by the Government Laboratory showed presence of atropine. All stocks of Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii were seized for further analysis.
Atropine is a kind of tropane alkaloids which can cause serious side effect in children and elderly, and patients with heart diseases, glaucoma or prostate enlargement.
It was found that Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii was imported from Fo Shan by Wong Chak Kee Limited and was supplied to local retailers including Wing Woo Hing.
Investigation to the wholesaler was conducted immediately for source tracing, and samples have been collected for urgent chemical testing.
Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii is used to improve circulation, and remove heat and dampness. It does not contain atropine. The herb itself is not toxic.
No report has been received about patients feeling unwell after taking the herb
As a precaution, DH had instructed Wong Chak Kee Limited to recall Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii from the retailers and to inform all its patrons of the possible contamination.
Wong Chak Kee Limited has set up a hotline (telephone no. 2546 8754) for enquiry.
Retailers who have purchased Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii from Wong Chak Kee Limited should immediately stop selling it and submit it to the Chinese Medicine Division of DH on 2/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon during office hours.
Chinese Medicine practitioners and traders are reminded to exercise caution in ensuring the quality of herbal medicines and be vigilant against contamination in the process of purchase, inspection, acceptance, distribution, storage and dispensation.
Members of the public who have purchased Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii from the involved retailer are advised to stop using it.
They should seek advice from their attending Chinese medicine practitioners if feeling unwell after taking Radix Strobilanthis Forrestii.