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Recall of heavy metal-tainted proprietary Chinese medicines (with photos)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (August 10) urged members of the public not to buy or use three proprietary Chinese medicines named [LuShenPai] Specific Hou Ton Qing (registration no.: HKP-01694; batch no.:100601), [Chung Lien] Bi Yan Pian (registration no.: HKP-00241; batch no.:48911004), and [AA] Pe Min Kan Wan (registration no.: HKP-13005; batch no.: 1495). The DH's drug surveillance programme found them to contain excessive amounts of heavy metals (see table). To protect public health, the drugs need to be recalled from consumers.

     A spokesman for the DH said the action was initiated after the Department learnt from the Government Laboratory earlier today that about 17.5 times the permitted level of arsenic was detected in a Hou Ton Qing sample, and 3.4 times and 2.7 times the permitted level of mercury were found in the Bi Yan Pian and Pe Min Kan Wan samples respectively.

     All three proprietary Chinese medicines were manufactured on the Mainland, and Bi Yan Pian and Pe Min Kan Wan were made by the same manufacturer. Three proprietary Chinese medicines were imported by three local licensed wholesalers of such medicines (see table), namely Sing Kwan Trading Co., Fung Wah (HK) Company, and M & A Natural Healthcare Products Company Limited. M & A Natural Healthcare Products Company Limited is also a licensed manufacturer of proprietary Chinese medicines.  

     "Hou Ton Qing is used to relieve throat discomfort. Bi Yan Pian and Pe Min Kan Wan are used to manage symptoms of rhinitis," the spokesman said.

     "Arsenic and mercury are both toxic heavy metals. Acute arsenic poisoning may cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, confusion and coma. Prolonged exposure can adversely affect the liver, kidney and heart. Acute mercury poisoning can cause inflammation of the mouth, while prolonged exposure can damage the neurological system and kidney.?Young children are particularly vulnerable to both heavy metals," the spokesman said. No adverse event related to consumption of the three drugs has been reported to DH.

     "Initial investigation by DH revealed that Sing Kwan Trading Co. performed secondary packaging of Hou Ton Qing, while M & A Natural Healthcare Products Company Limited performed both primary and secondary packaging of Pe Min Kan Wan in Hong Kong; the other drug, Bi Yan Pian was sold intact," the spokesman said.

     "As such, the chance of contamination after import was minimal. So, the matter is referred to the Mainland's drug regulatory authority for their upstream tracing," the spokesman added.

     It is understood that the wholesalers have set up separate hotlines for related enquiries (see table).  

     "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 here. The maximum penalty for the concerned wholesaler is $50,000 and six months' imprisonment. In any case, we will consult the Department of Justice regarding possible prosecution on completion of our investigation," the spokesman said.

     The spokesman reminded members of the public who may have purchased any of the three products to surrender it to DH at 16/F, Two Landmark East, Kwun Tong, Kowloon.

     "Those who have used any of those products and are feeling unwell or in doubt should seek help from their healthcare providers as soon as possible. DH's investigation will continue and we will also be monitoring the recall," the spokesman added.

Ends/Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Issued at HKT 18:30


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