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Recall of mercury-tainted proprietary Chinese medicine (with photo)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (May 6) orders the wholesaler of a proprietary Chinese medicine, Wah Ning Chinese Medicine Co, to recall from consumer a batch (batch no: 20101028) of 41 boxes of [Hua Tuo Brand] Youzhi Baoying Dan (registration no: HKP-10296) as it has been found to contain excessive mercury.

     The action is called for after a surveillance sample from the above batch obtained by DH inspectors from the market is found by the Government Laboratory to contain about two times the permitted limit of mercury.

     The drug is known to be used in children for the treatment of generalised discomfort like restlessness at night or fever.

     Initial investigation by DH found that the batch of [Hua Tuo Brand] Youzhi Baoying Dan was manufactured in the Mainland and imported by Wah Ning.  It was then distributed to three retailers.

     A DH spokesman explained that acute mercury poisoning can cause inflammation of the mouth while prolonged exposure can damage the neurological system and kidneys.  Young children are particularly vulnerable.

     DH has already inspected the premises of the wholesaler and the retailers and no stock of the concerned product could be found.  Investigation continues.

     The matter has been referred to the Mainland's drug regulatory authority for their continued investigation.

     Members of the public can call the wholesaler's hotline at 2416 5495 for related enquiries.  DH will monitor the recall as well as target surveillance on other batches of the drug.

     "Here, contravention of section 54 of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance, Cap 132, Laws of Hong Kong, selling a drug intended for use by man but unfit for that purpose might have been occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $50,000 and six months imprisonment. We will work with the Department of Justice for prosecution matters," said the spokesman.

     The spokesman urges those members of the public who have purchased the product to stop using it immediately and surrender the product to DH at 16/F, Two Landmark East, Kwun Tong, Kowloon.

     For those who have used the product and feel unwell, they should seek advice from their healthcare providers as soon as possible.  So far, DH has not received any adverse report related to the product.

Ends/Friday, May 6, 2011
Issued at HKT 20:53


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