Do Not Consume Slimming Product With Undeclared Western Drug Ingredients

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The Department of Health called on members of the public not to buy or use a brand of slimming product which was found to contain two undeclared western drugs phenolphthalein and sibutramine, both of which can cause serious side effects.

The appeal followed investigations by the Department into a report by the Hospital Authority concerning a victim after consumption of the product.

A 20-year-old woman developed psychiatric symptoms including acute auditory hallucination and paranoid ideas after taking the product which she bought through the internet. Her symptoms subsided after she stopped taking the product.

Meanwhile, DH is also investigating two other complaints it received concerning the same product. Two female patients, aged 20 and 25 respectively, developed insomnia, thirst or decreased appetite after taking the product which they bought through the internet. Their symptoms subsided after they stopped taking it.

A spokesman for DH said that laboratory analysis on samples collected from one of the patients showed the presence of phenolphthalein and sibutramine, western drug ingredients for treatment of constipation and slimming respectively.

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Phenolphthalein has been banned for its cancer causing effect.

Sibutramine may cause increase blood pressure and pulse rate, and has been reported in some literature to be associated with psychosis. Under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance, it must be registered with the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and can only be sold on a doctor's prescription and under supervision of a pharmacist. Possession or sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product is liable on conviction to a $100,000 fine and two years' imprisonment.

This slimming product is not a registered pharmaceutical product in Hong Kong.

Members of the public who have used the product are advised to stop taking it immediately and seek advice from healthcare professionals if they feel unwell.

The spokesman said, "Weight control should be achieved by observing good diet and appropriate exercise. They should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control."

Anyone who has the slimming product in their possession should dispose of the product themselves or submit it to the department's Pharmaceutical Service at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon during office hours.

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