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Press Release

Woman arrested for selling slimming products with undeclared drug ingredients

1 Jun 2010

A 43-year-old woman was today (June 1) arrested in a joint operation by the Police and the Department of Health (DH) as part of their follow-up investigation into the sale of four slimming products which were earlier found to contain undeclared western drug ingredients that may cause serious side effects. The four products were USA Yaku Cell Slimming Capsules (美國雅酷細胞減肥素),青瓜の排油素,木瓜の排油素and冬瓜の排油素.

In today's operation, the woman was suspected of selling USA Yaku Cell Slimming Capsules (美國雅酷細胞減肥素). She was also in possession of two boxes of冬瓜の排油素at the time of arrest.

The woman was arrested for illegal sale and possession of Part I poison and unregistered pharmaceutical products. A home search subsequently resulted in the seizure of more stock of the four products.

The department previously obtained the products concerned from an Internet auction website during the department's surveillance operation.

The department subsequently issued a warning on May 13 reminding members of the public not to take the products after the detection of undeclared western drug ingredients, sibutramine and its analogue, as well as phenolphthalein, in the product samples by laboratory tests.

"According to preliminary enquiry, these products were obtained from a Mainland website and offered for sale on a local auction website," a DH spokesman said.

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

The spokesman said 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.

Sibutramine analogues, being chemically similar to sibutramine, are 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.

"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."

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

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

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."

01 June 2010