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

     The Department of Health (DH) today (June 24) ordered a proprietary Chinese medicine wholesaler, Wah Shun Medicine Limited, to recall from consumers a batch (batch no: 801128A1) of [W.S] Gan Mao Ling (registration no: HKP-00916) as it was found to contain excessive arsenic.

     A spokesman for the DH said that the action was called for after the Government Laboratory detected about 1.7 times the permitted level of arsenic in a surveillance sample obtained from the market by DH pharmaceutical inspectors.

     The drug is used to relieve symptoms of common cold and flu.

     Initial investigations by the DH revealed that the said batch of [W.S] Gan Mao Ling was manufactured in the Mainland and imported by Wah Shun in December 2009. It was then distributed to local retailers. No more batches have been imported since.

     Arsenic is a heavy metal and acute poisoning may cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion and coma. Prolonged exposure can adversely affect the liver, kidney and heart.  Young children are particularly vulnerable.

     As investigation continues, the DH has instructed the company to immediately recall the batch concerned from consumers.

     The matter has also been referred to the Mainland's drug regulatory authority for their follow-up.

     Members of the public can call the wholesaler's hotline at 2571 0775 for related enquiries.  DH will be monitoring the recall.

     "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 occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $50,000 and six months' imprisonment. On completion of the investigation, we will work with the Department of Justice regarding possible prosecution," the spokesman said.

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

     "For those who have used the product and are feeling 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," the spokesman said.

Ends/Friday, June 24, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:50


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