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Caution against four contaminated proprietary Chinese medicines

     The Department of Health (DH) today (August 1) advises members of the public not to consume four proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm), namely, "Shu Gan He Wei Wan", "Qing Gan Zuo Jin", "Wai Han Nei Shi Wan", and "Qing Xue Jie Du Wan", prescribed by a Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Chao Lan of Huichun Chinese Medicine Clinic at Kwun Tong, as they have been found to have undeclared chemical ingredients, some of which are poisonous.

     The incident first came to light when the Hospital Authority (HA) investigated into a case of a suspected panic attack in a 50-year-old woman admitted to United Christian Hospital (UCH) on July 13. She presented with dizziness, limbs twitching and weakness. Laboratory analysis on four pCms prescribed by the involved practitioner detected multiple alkaloids, including aconitum alkaloids, strychnos alkaloids and sophora alkaloids. The findings were incidental as none was expected according to the list of ingredients in the pCms and they could not explain the patient's symptoms either. Subsequently, the patient made recovery and was discharged home on July 14.

     The matter was then referred by HA to DH for investigation. Findings thus far reveal that CMP Chao commissioned a licensed local Chinese medicines manufacturer, Luen Wing Chinese Medicine Manufacture Company Limited to make the four pCms. All stocks in the CMP's clinic were seized and sent to the Government Laboratory for chemical analysis.

     Meanwhile, DH has instructed the CMP to stop prescribing the four pCms manufactured by Luen Wing and to conduct contact tracing of exposed patients. So far, CMP Chao has not received report about patients feeling unwell after taking the four pCms concerned.  Members of the public can call the CMP's hotline (2341 5497) for related enquiries.

     Aconitum alkaloids may cause numbness, cardiac arrhythmia and hypotension. They are usually found in herbs such as Radix Aconiti Lateralis.  

     Strychnos alkaloids may cause muscle spasm and convulsion. They are usually found in herbs such as Semen Strychni.

     Sophora alkaloids may cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. They are usually found in herbs like Radix Sophorae Flavescentis.

     Investigation at Luen Wing Chinese Medicine Manufacture Company Limited continues.

     "Luen Wing has not notified DH about the manufacture of the four pCms for CMP Chao and hence violates section 37 of the Chinese Medicine Regulation. Besides, contravention of Section 52(1) of the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance Cap. 132, selling any drug not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser, might have occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $10,000 and three months' imprisonment. On completion of the investigation, we will work with the Department of Justice regarding possible prosecution," a spokesman for the DH said.

     Patients who have obtained the concerned pCm from the clinic should immediately stop using it and submit it to the Chinese Medicine Division of DH on 16/F, Two Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong during office hours. Members of the public should seek advice from health care professionals if they have any doubt about their Chinese medicinal products.

Ends/Monday, August 1, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:54


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