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Press Release

Woman arrested for illegal sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products with banned drug ingredients on the Internet

12 Jun 2012

A 29 year-old woman was today (12 June) arrested in a joint operation by the Police and the Department of Health (DH) at Wong Tai Sin for suspected illegal sale of one box of "Shan Dian Shou", which is a slimming product with undeclared and banned drug ingredients.

The operation followed laboratory test finding today revealing that the slimming product, which had been obtained earlier from an Internet auction website during DH's surveillance operation, was found to contain sildenafil, sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

Sildenafil is a Part I Poison and is usually used for treating male sexual dysfunction. The side effects of sildenafil include low blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, dizziness and transient vision disturbances. It may interact with some drugs (such as nitroglycerin for treatment of angina) and cause decrease in blood pressure to dangerous levels. Improper use of sildenafil may pose serious health risks, especially for patients with heart problems.

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 by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board because of increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was used previously to treat constipation, but has been banned for its cancer-causing effect.

"Thus, products containing sibutramine or phenolphthalein are banned and are not accepted for registration as pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong. Sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product and illegal sale of Part I poison are offences under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years imprisonment," a DH spokesman remarks.

During the operation, the woman was arrested by the Police for sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product and illegal sale of Part I poison. DH investigation continues.

The spokesman asked members of the public not to buy or use products of unknown composition, whether in the marketplace or on the Internet. He also urged people to stop using the product immediately. They should consult healthcare professionals for advice if they feel unwell after taking the products concerned.

“Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. Members of the public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control,” the spokesman says.

“As the product is an unregistered pharmaceutical product and a Part I poison, people should submit it to the department's Drug Office at 3/F., Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal.” the spokesman adds.

The Department of Health today (June 4) endorsed the voluntary total recall of Derma Skin Spray (registration number: HK-54689) by a local drug manufacturer, Meyer Pharmaceuticals Limited, from the market as some sale packs of the product bear unapproved labels which rendered the product unregistered.

Last Revision Date : 12 June 2012