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Press Release

Warning on oral product containing undeclared Western drug ingredients

10 October 2012

The Department of Health (DH) today (October 10) appealed to members of the public not to buy or consume an oral product called "Snake Powder Capsule for Rheumatism ", as it may contain undeclared Western drugs that are dangerous to health.

The appeal followed the DH's receipt of notification from the Hospital Authority (HA) about a 47-year-old male patient. The DH commenced investigation immediately.

"The patient sought treatment from the Accident and Emergency Department of Queen Mary Hospital on September 18 because of persistent fever. He was found to have renal impairment after admission. He described a history of use of the above oral product for joint pain before admission. A drug-related adverse effect was suspected clinically. He was discharged from hospital on September 24 after treatment.

"The HA's laboratory test on the product sample showed the presence of multiple undeclared Western medicines, including piroxicam, dexamethasone, hydrochlorothiazide and cimetidine. Investigation showed that this product was purchased in Mainland. The DH’s investigation continues," a DH spokesman said.

"Piroxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug used to relieve pain and inflammation. Their known side effects include gastrointestinal discomfort, nausea, peptic ulcer and renal impairment. It is well known that users will have increased risks of developing complications like gastrointestinal ulcers, some of which may be silent until more serious complications like gastrointestinal bleeding set in.

“Dexamethasone is a steroid and a prescription-only medicine. Taking dexamethasone for a long time, especially in substantial dosage, can cause side effects such as moon face, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle atrophy, peptic ulcer and even osteoporosis. Hydrochlorothiazide is used as a diuretic and also for the treatment of hypertension. It may cause hypotension and electrolyte imbalance. As for cimetidine, it is commonly used to suppress secretion of stomach acid,” the spokesman added.

"Members of the public must stop taking this product immediately. If they feel unwell or are in doubt after taking the product, they should consult healthcare professionals as soon as possible. Besides, they are advised not to buy or consume products of unknown composition or from doubtful sources. People with arthritis and joint pain should consult healthcare professionals for appropriate advice or treatment," the spokesman urged.

Snake Powder Capsule

Last Revision Date : 10 October 2012