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Press Release

Public urged not to buy or consume unknown slimming products from Internet

17 Aug 2011

The Department of Health (DH) appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume unknown or doubtful slimming products from the Internet as they may contain undeclared drug ingredients that are dangerous to health.

The appeal followed DH’s receipt of notification from the Hospital Authority (HA) that a 30-year-old woman sought medical treatment at the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Elizabeth Hospital on July 24 for hand tremor, palpitation, dry mouth, dizziness and shortness of breath. The patient was treated and discharged on the same day.

According to DH’s investigation, the patient had consumed two slimming products named " Tianran Zuanshi Xianweisu" and " Paidusu" before the onset of symptoms. Both products were purchased from an Internet website in May 2011. Her symptoms subsided after she stopped taking the products.

Laboratory tests conducted by HA on the product samples submitted by the patient showed presence of two banned ingredients – sibutramine and phenolphthalein, and another ingredient thyroxine.

Sibutramine is a Part I poison and was once a western medicine used as appetite suppressant. In November 2010, sibutramine containing products have been banned because of the increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was once used for treating constipation but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect. While thyroxine is used for treating hypothyroidism, inappropriate use could cause severe side effects such as hypertension and irregular heart rate which might be fatal.

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

The spokesman said: "People should stop using the products immediately. They should consult a doctor if they feel unwell after taking the products.

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

17 August 2011