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Press Release

Warning on slimming product with banned drug ingredient

10 Mar 2011

The Department of Health today (March 10) called on people not to buy or use a slimming product called “Slimming Kapsul”, which was found to contain a banned Western drug ingredient sibutramine and another drug ingredient spironolactone that may cause serious side effects.

The appeal was made following investigations by the department into a report by the Hospital Authority (HA) concerning a woman displaying abnormal behaviour after consuming the slimming product for six months.

The 28-year-old woman developed symptoms of drug induced psychosis on February 23 and was treated in Ruttonjee Hospital and Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital. She was discharged today in stable condition.

According to HA’s testing, samples of the products were found to contain sibutramine and spironolactone.

Spironolactone is a diuretic drug. Its side effects include headache, drowsiness, gastrointestinal disturbances, mental confusion, hyponatraemia and hyperkalaemia.

Sibutramine was once a western medicine used as appetite suppressant. In November 2010, sibutramine-containing products have been banned because of the increased cardiovascular risk.

Products containing sibutramine are banned and are therefore unregistered pharmaceutical products and not allowed for sale in Hong Kong. Sale of an unregistered pharmaceutical product 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 buy products of unknown or doubtful composition.

People should stop using the product immediately. They should consult 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. People should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control."

10 March 2011