The Department of Health (DH) has appealed to members of the public not to consume a fake proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm) likely to have been bought directly from a licensed pCm wholesaler, Bio-Tech Chinese Medicine Laboratory Ltd (Bio-Tech), as it may contain potent undeclared Western drugs.
The appeal was made as the DH investigated a Hospital Authority referral of a 60-year-old Chinese gentleman who developed hypoglycaemia after consumption of an oral product. Two undeclared Western drugs, both with a blood sugar lowering effect, namely glibenclamide and phenformin, were found in the said product. The patient made an uneventful recovery after one day and, thus far, the DH has received no other related notification.
"Glibenclamide is a Part I poison and a prescription medicine. Phenformin was once an anti-diabetic drug as well. However, it has been banned since April 1985 because of its unacceptably high incidence of association with the fatal condition lactic acidosis," a DH spokesman stated.
"The oral product concerned is called Pancre-Plus, which bears a name, a registration number and a manufacturer identical to those of a registered proprietary Chinese medicine (HKP-07138), though there are packaging distinctions in capsule weight and indications," the spokesman said.
The DH made a site inspection to the licensed manufacturer involved, Double Happy (H.K.) Chinese Medicine Factory Limited (Double Happy). It was apparent that the latter shared a premises with another licensed pCm wholesaler, Bio-Tech.
"Our inspectors note from Double Happy's sales record that it had ceased production of the registered Pancre-Plus for at least two years," the spokesman elaborated.
"However, stock of 20 packs of Pancre-Plus, which appears identical to that of the patient's, was found and seized. Package information somewhat different from that of the registered Pancre-Plus claims that the seemingly falsified product is for enhancing blood circulation, nourishing and protecting the health of the liver and also stabilising blood glucose levels. The Government Laboratory confirmed the detection of phenformin and glibenclamide in the seized sample," the spokesman continued.
"Bio-Tech admitted to our inspectors that the falsified Pancre-Plus was brought from the Mainland for direct sale in Hong Kong," the spokesman said.
To control the matter, the DH has instructed Bio-Tech to recall Pancre-Plus from consumers while referring upstream tracing to its Mainland counterpart. Bio-Tech has set up a phone hotline at 2770 3770 for related enquiries.
"Here, contravention of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap. 138) because of suspected illegal sale of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical product might have occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $100,000 and two years' imprisonment. Moreover, as the fake product is likely a counterfeit, we will refer the case for the Customs and Excise Department's expert management," the spokesman remarked.
"Members of the public who have the adulterated product in hand must cease using it and surrender it to the DH at 16/F, Two Landmark East, Kwun Tong, Kowloon. In connection, whenever unsure or feeling unwell after having consumed the product, consumers should seek advice from their health-care professionals," the spokesman urged.
Ends/Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 23:22