Public urged not to buy or consume slimming product of unknown composition and unregistered pharmaceutical products
17 January 2013
The Department of Health (DH) today (January 17) appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume a slimming product called "Leisure 18 Slimming Coffee" as it was found to contain undeclared and banned drug ingredients that are dangerous to health.
The appeal followed the DH's receipt of notification from the Hospital Authority about a 24-year-old female patient who had a history of consuming the above slimming product. The DH commenced investigation immediately.
"The patient attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Princess Margaret Hospital on January 10 because of having unstable emotions, and psychiatric symptoms of delusion and auditory hallucination. She was admitted to the psychiatric ward of Kowloon Hospital for treatment on the same day. She described a history of consumption of the above slimming product. Sibutramine and sibutramine metabolites were detected in her urine sample. Thus, the clinical diagnosis of a drug-related adverse event was made. She is currently in a stable condition," a DH spokesperson said.
Investigations revealed that the above product was purchased from a grocery shop located on the 1/F of Liksang Plaza, Tsuen Wan. The Government Laboratory's test results of the product sample purchased from the shop showed the presence of two undeclared and banned Western medicines, namely sibutramine and phenolphthalein.
Apart from the adulterated slimming product, a quantity of suspected Part I poisons (external creams) and unregistered pharmaceutical products (mainly vitamins) were also found (see Attachment) at the same grocery shop. The preliminary investigation so far has revealed that the products were sourced by the shop from places outside Hong Kong. During the operation, a 39-year-old man was arrested for illegal possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products.
The DH's investigation is continuing.
"Sibutramine is a Part I poison and was once a Western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned because of an increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was once used for treating constipation but has been banned for its possible cancer-causing effect," the spokesperson explained.
According to the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138), all pharmaceutical products must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board of Hong Kong (the Board) before they can be sold legally in the market. Part I poisons should be sold at pharmacies under the supervision of registered pharmacists. Illegal sale or possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products are criminal offences. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment.
The spokesperson strongly urged members of the public not to buy products of unknown or doubtful composition, or consume products from unknown sources. Unregistered pharmaceutical products have not been evaluated by the Board and their safety, quality and efficacy may not be guaranteed.
Members of the public should consult health-care professionals for advice if they are in doubt or feeling unwell after using the concerned products. All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of "HK-XXXXX".
"People who have purchased the above product should stop using them immediately and consult health-care professionals as soon as possible. They can submit it to the Drug Office of the DH at Room 1801, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, during office hours for disposal," the spokesman urged.
"Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. The public should consult health-care professionals before using any medication for weight control," the spokesman said.