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Proprietary Chinese medicine with Western drug
ingredients found


The Department of Health (DH) today (June 16) called on the public not to buy or use a brand of proprietary Chinese medicine, "特效李三連蛇骨風濕丸", which contains six Western drug ingredients and may cause side effects.

Five of the six ingredients, betamethasone, piroxicam, frusemide, chlorzoxane and oxethazaine are prescription-only drugs and they should only be used under medical supervision.  Paracetamol can be bought over the counter.

Betamethasone is a steroid used to relieve allergies and rheumatism. Piroxicam and paracetamol are pain killers. Frusemide is used to remove excess water from the body. Chlorzoxane is a muscle relaxant. Oxethazaine is used to relieve stomach upset.

Taking betamethasone for a long time can cause Cushingnoid features such as central obesity and muscle wasting. Piroxicam can cause stomach and intestinal discomfort. Frusemide and chlorzoxane can cause stomach and intestinal discomfort and dizziness. Oxethazaine can cause dizziness. Paracetamol taken in high doses can cause liver damage.

The appeal was made after an investigation into a case in which a 69-year-old man sought treatment at Ruttonjee Hospital in May for an acute condition. The man claimed that he had taken "特效李三連蛇骨風濕丸" since March 2005 for his knee pain.  

Chemical analysis of the medicine obtained from the man revealed that it contained the six Western drug ingredients.

It was reported that the medicine was bought from Taiwan. However, the medicine was not the cause of his admission.

The Department of Health has no record of this proprietary Chinese medicine having been imported into Hong Kong for sale. The relevant authority in Taiwan has been informed.

Members of the public who have been using "特效李三連蛇骨風濕丸" are advised to stop taking it immediately and to seek medical attention if they feel unwell.

They are urged to dispose of the medicine or submit it to the Department of Health's Pharmaceutical Service, 3/F Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon during office hours.

People with rheumatism and joint pain should consult medical professionals for appropriate advice and treatment.

Ends/Thursday, June 16, 2005


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