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Press Release

Warning on slimming product with banned drug ingredients

19 Aug 2011

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

The appeal followed DH’s receipt of notification from the Hospital Authority of a case involving a 34-year-old Indonesian woman, who was admitted to Prince Margaret Hospital on August 14 for dizziness and head injury resulted from falling from bed.

During admission, the patient revealed that she had earlier taken a slimming product called “2008 Slim Baby” purchased from an Indonesian shop in Tsuen Wan. Laboratory test on the product remnant showed presence of banned drug ingredients – sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

“The finding was incidental as the clinical presentation of the patient was unrelated to the product. Subsequently, the patient made recovery and was discharged home on August 17,” a DH spokesman said.

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.

Product containing banned western drug ingredients is not allowed for sale in Hong Kong. Sale of 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 products immediately. They should consult healthcare professionals if they feel unwell or are in doubt 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 balanced diet and appropriate exercise. People should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control."

2008 Slim Baby.

19 August 2011