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Public urged not to consume slimming products with undeclared drug ingredients

11 Dec 2009

Members of the public are urged not to buy or consume two slimming products called "Comecoo" and "ZHONGCAOYAO—JIANKANGJIANFEI" respectively as they were found to contain undeclared western medicines that may cause serious side effects, a spokesman for the Department of Health (DH) said today (December 11).

Samples of the product were obtained from an Internet auction website during a recent surveillance operation.

The appeal was made after laboratory tests on the product showed the presence of sibutramine and phenolphthalein and two analogues of sibutramine.

The spokesman said the products were not registered pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong.

Investigation by DH continues.

The spokesman said that sibutramine was a western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Its side effects included increased blood pressure and heart rate, psychosis and possibly convulsion. People with heart problems should not take it.

The sibutramine analogue, being chemically similar to sibutramine, is expected to have the same side effects as sibutramine.

Phenolphthalein was once used for treating constipation but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect.

A product containing sibutramine must be registered before it can be sold in Hong Kong. It can be sold only on a doctor's prescription and dispensed under the supervision of a pharmacist.

He said: "Sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products is an offence under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. The maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.

The spokesman exhorted members of the public not to sell or resell products of unknown or doubtful composition.

"Members of the public should not buy products with unknown ingredients as their safety and quality are doubtful. Unlawful possession of products containing controlled drugs such as dangerous drugs is liable to prosecution."

People should stop using the products immediately. They should see a doctor if they feel unwell after taking the product.

They should destroy and dispose of the products or submit them to the department's Pharmaceutical Service at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon, during office hours.

The spokesman said, "Weight control should be achieved through good diet and appropriate exercise. People should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control."

  Last Revision Date : 11 December 2009