The Department of Health (DH) today (December 10) urgently advises members of the public, especially clients of registered Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP) stationed in Lam Tin, Leung Yum, not to consume two unregistered proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm), respectively, a black-coloured pill named "Jin Kui Shen Qi Wan" and a brown-coloured pill with no name (see photos), particularly since the pills may contain undeclared poisons.
A DH spokesman deliberates that the above is made as the Department investigates into a referral from the Hospital Authority (HA).
The history goes that as HA managed a 57-year-old Chinese man with lower limb weakness likely due to chronic diarrhoea-induced hypokalaemia, laboratory analysis on two types of pills taken by the patient, but aconitum alkaloids and strychnos alkaloids were found in the black pill only.
"Though judging from the clinical presentation, the findings are probably incidental, DH commences investigation immediately as both types of alkaloids could be poisonous," the spokesman remarks.
According to the CMP, he prescribed the patient with the pills for his chronic diarrhoea since this October. The CMP claims that the pills were ordered from a drug manufactory on the Mainland according to his own formularies.
"While Processed Radix Aconiti Lateralis amongst the list of ingredients could account for the aconitum alkaloids, none others could explain the presence of strychnos alkaloids," the spokesman comments.
All stocks of related pCms in the CMP's possession were seized yesterday and sent to the Government Laboratory for chemical analysis. Today, the result of Government Laboratory revealed the presence of both types of alkaloids in both black and brown pills.
"While clinic inspection findings suggest that CMP Leung does not keep proper medical records, information collected so far shows that the problematic lot of pills has only been supplied to the index client", the spokesman discloses.
Indeed, DH has received no related adverse report to date, but investigation is continuing.
"Aconitum alkaloids may cause numbness, hypotension and cardiac arrhythmia. Strychnos alkaloids may cause muscle spasm and convulsion. Strychnos alkaloids are usually found in a herb called Semen Strychni," the spokesman elaborates.
The DH spokesman further explains that "Contravention of Section 119 of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance, Cap. 549, that no person shall sell, import or possess any pCm unless the pCm is registered might have occurred here. The maximum penalty involved is HK$100,000 and two years' imprisonment.
Besides, contravention of Section 52(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance Cap. 132, that selling any drug not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser might also have taken place. The maximum penalty involved here is HK$10,000 and three months' imprisonment.
In any case, on completion of our investigation, we will work with the Department of Justice regarding possible prosecution, and also consider whether and if yes, when to bring the matter to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for necessary disciplinary hearing."
"Members of the public, especially clients of CMP Leung, must stop using the pills described immediately and surrender them to DH at 16/F Two Landmark East, Kwun Tong. Also, at any time, if they are not sure or if feel unwell after using the suspicious pills, they ought to consult the healthcare professionals," the spokesman advises.
Ends/Saturday, December 10, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:03