The Department of Health (DH) is today (September 15) investigating a case of suspected illegal possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products by a listed Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Yip Koon-yun, practising at Hong Kong Pak Ling Herbalist Centre located at Flat Q and R, 3/F, Cheung Hing Building, 15 Cheung Wong Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon.
The investigation follows a complaint from a member of the public whose daughter aged 2 had been prescribed with a bottle of greenish cream (see photo) by the above CMP for eczema. Part I poisons, namely dexamethasone acetate, clobetasol propionate and ketoconazole, were detected from the sample submitted by the patient upon testing by the Government Laboratory. No hospitalisation was required for the girl.
Preliminary investigation revealed that three suspected unregistered pharmaceutical products in cream form for external use were found in the above CMP's address. Two of them were labelled to contain the above Part I poisons. The creams were mixed in the premises and the finished product was then labelled as the above bottle of cream for supplying to patients. The remaining one was labelled to contain an antibiotic, lincomycin.
"Dexamethasone and clobetasol are steroids and prescription-only medicine. Using steroid for a long time, especially when in substantial dosage, can cause systemic side-effects such as moon face, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle atrophy, peptic ulcer and even osteoporosis. Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine commonly used for fungal infection of the skin. It can cause side-effects such as itching, irritation and allergic reaction when used topically. Lincomycin is used for bacterial infection. It may cause side-effects such as hypersensitive reactions," a spokesman for the DH explained.
"Stocks of the suspected Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products were all seized for further investigation. While the DH's investigation is ongoing, no reports of related adverse incidents have been received so far," the spokesman said.
The DH has set up a hotline (2125 1133) for public enquiries related to the medicines prescribed by the above CMP. It will operate from 9am to 5pm tomorrow (September 16) onwards.
"Upon completion of investigation, the DH will seek advice from the Department of Justice regarding prosecution against the CMP for possible contravention of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138) for illegal possession of Part I poison, and the Antibiotics Ordinance (Cap 137) for illegal possession of antibiotics. The maximum penalty for the former is $100,000 and two years' imprisonment while the latter is $30,000 and one year's imprisonment. We will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for possible disciplinary actions", the spokesman remarked.
Members of the public who have been supplied with medicines by the above CMP and are in doubt should consult healthcare professionals as soon as possible. They should submit the medicines to the DH's Chinese Medicine Division at 16/F, AIA Kowloon Tower, Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal.
Ends/Monday, September 15, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:47