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Press Release

Man arrested for selling slimming product with undeclared drugs on the Internet

16 Dec 2009

A 27-year-old man was today (December 16) arrested in a joint operation between the Department of Health (DH) and the police as part of a follow-up investigation into the sale of a slimming product with undeclared western drug ingredients.

The man, suspected of selling the slimming product on the Internet, was being held for investigation.
Other slimming products were also found in a home search.

The department is investigating whether the seized products contain undeclared Western drug ingredients.

"According to preliminary enquiry, these products were obtained from a Mainland website and sent to Hong Kong by post," a department spokesman said.

The product concerned, which was called "Slimming Beauty", was obtained from an Internet auction website during the department's surveillance operation.

The department issued a warning on November 24, 2009 reminding people not to take the product as laboratory tests on the product showed the presence of sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

A department spokesman explained that sibutramine was a Western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Its side effects include increased blood pressure and heart rate, psychosis and possibly convulsion. People with heart problems should not take it.

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

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

The spokesman urged people not to sell products of unknown or doubtful composition.

"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."

  Last Revision Date : 16 December 2009