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Press Release

Warning on slimming product with undeclared drug ingredients

31 May 2010

The Department of Health today (May 31) called on people not to buy or use a slimming product called "Sheng Yuan Fang", which was found to contain undeclared Western drug ingredients that may cause serious side effects.

The appeal was made following investigations by the department into a report by the Hospital Authority concerning a woman having abnormal behaviour after consuming the slimming product for a month.

The 30-year-old woman developed symptoms of drug induced psychosis on May 17 and was admitted to North District Hospital the next day. She has now been transferred to Tai Po Hospital for convalescence.

Laboratory tests on the product sample showed the presence of undeclared Western drugs, phenolphthalein and sibutramine. Phenolphthalein and sibutramine metabolites were detected in the urine sample of the patient

The spokesman said phenolphthalein was once used for treating constipation but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect.

Sibutramine is 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.

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.

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

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

They should destroy and dispose of the product or submit it 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. They should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control."

People are urged not to buy or use Sheng Yuan Fang which was found to contain undeclared Western drug ingredients that may cause serious side effects.

31 May 2010