21 May 2012
A 22-year-old woman was arrested today (May 21) in a joint operation by the Police and the Department of Health (DH) at Yau Ma Tei for illegal sale and possession of unlabelled slimming products, which are suspected to be unregistered pharmaceutical products containing banned drug ingredient and Western medicines.
The operation followed laboratory test findings today revealing that three unlabelled slimming products, which had been obtained earlier from an Internet auction website during DH's surveillance operation, were found to contain Western medicines, including fluoxetine, bisacodyl and a banned drug ingredient sibutramine. The slimming products were allegedly obtained from a hospital in Thailand.
On April 13 and 20, DH had issued similar warnings arising from separate surveillance findings and had instructed the Internet service provider to remove the offending auction websites.
DH investigation continues.
"Sibutramine was used as an appetite suppressant. In November 2010, products containing sibutramine were banned because of increased cardiovascular risk and they are no longer allowed for sale in Hong Kong," a DH spokesman says.
"Fluoxetine is used for depression and may cause postural hypotension and alopecia. It must be sold with prescriptions at pharmacies under the supervision of pharmacists. Bisacodyl is a laxative that may cause abdominal pain and is an over-the-counter medicine," the spokesman continues.
"Sale and possession of unregistered pharmaceutical products are offences under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. The maximum penalty is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment for each offence," the spokesman says.
The spokesman exhorts members of the public not to sell or use products of unknown composition from the market or the Internet. Weight control should be achieved through balanced diet and appropriate exercise.
Members of the public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control. They should consult healthcare professionals for advice if they feel unwell after taking the concerned products.
"People should stop using the products immediately. They should submit them to DH's Drug Office at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal," the spokesman urges.