Hong Kong Department Of Health appealed to members of the public again not to consume various capsules claimed to treat male impotence, following Hospital Authority (HA)'s notification of a second cluster of six more non-diabetic men who were retrospectively found to have residues of the sugar-lowering drug glibenclamide in their clinical specimens (including urine).
This now brings the number of patients affected by such category of products to a total of 10.
A spokesman for DH said that the six men, aged between 53 and 86, had been admitted to hospitals with symptoms of low blood sugar like dizziness, sweating and collapse between December 2007 and January 2008. Five of them have been discharged after treatment while one is still in hospital.
DH's investigation showed two of them had consumed yellow capsules labeled as ??? and red/pink capsules named as "Nangen" brought from a hawker in Yuen Long and a shop in Shenzhen respectively.
Of the first cluster of four cases reported to DH on February 1, one had passed away and the case has been submitted to Coroner's Court for inquiry; one is still in intensive care unit; and the remaining two have been discharged.
Investigations into the sources of all cases are ongoing with Police involvement.
"DH had set up clinical case surveillance with HA and all 12 private hospitals and no new case has been detected since February 1," the spokesman said.
"DH had inspected more than 220 pharmacies and retail shops throughout the territory with an emphasis in North District, where one incriminated shop named Lung Sang Group Ginseng Antler and Sea Product Company in Sheung Shui is located," he added.
During the operation, some 130 red/yellow capsules similar to the one taken by a patient were seized from the Sheung Shui retail shop. Laboratory tests revealed the presence of impotent treatment drugs sildenafil and tadalafil and a high level of oral hypoglycaemic drug glibenclamide. If consumed, it could result in serious health consequences or even death.
Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, products containing glibenclamide must be registered before sale and can only be sold on a doctor's prescription and under the supervision of a pharmacist.
"Currently, similar efforts in other districts are going," the spokesman said.
He said that letters have also been issued to all doctors and private hospitals to alert them of the incidents.
"Today, similar alert will be issued to medicines traders and Chinese medicines practitioners as well," he said.
DH also informed the State Food and Drug Administration of Mainland and Department of Health of Macau for follow-up, as the capsules seized in the Sheung Shui shop were allegedly purchased from a Mainland agent, the spokesman added. "We have also informed the drug administration of Shenzhen of the incidents."
The spokesman reiterated that members of the public and the trade who have in their possession similar products are urged to stop consuming or trading them immediately.
They should dispose of the products or submit it to the Department's Pharmaceutical Service at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon during office hours. If they have any enquiry, there is a hotline no. 2572 2068 which operates during office hours.
The spokesman urged people who had problems of sexual dysfunction to consult healthcare professionals for appropriate advice.
He further urged all retailers not to buy drugs from unknown sources, as the efficacy, safety and quality of such could not be assured.