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Suspected illegal supply of prescription western drug by a Chinese medicine practitioner (with photo)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (March 20) alerted clients of a listed Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Yim Hing-yan, practising at On Tai Tong Medicine Co. in Yau Ma Tei, that if they have been supplied with a yellowish powder, they should stop using it and then either contact the practitioner or consult other healthcare professionals for advice because the powder was found to contain two undeclared western drugs, namely prednisone and chlorpheniramine.

     The appeal followed DH's investigation finding into an anonymous complaint from the public.

     "The Government Laboratory's analysis on samples of the yellowish powder obtained from the CMP's clinic detected the presence of prednisone and chlorpheniramine, both of which could attain therapeutic levels if taken in accordance with the CMP's prescription instruction," a DH spokesman remarked.

     "Upon preliminary investigation, DH Chinese medicine inspectors are given to understand that the CMP purchased both western drugs from the Mainland and then prepared the powder by himself. Apart from self-use, it is also believed that some powder may have been prescribed to some of his patients," the spokesman deliberated.

     The spokesman continued to reveal that while DH's investigation is ongoing, the CMP will assist DH to trace contacts for medical surveillance in the meantime. There is no known related adverse incident report received thus far.

     "Prednisone is a steroid. Taking prednisone for a long time, especially when in substantial dosage, can cause side effects such as moon face, high blood pressure, high blood sugar and peptic ulcer. Chlorpheniramine is an over-the-counter drug commonly used for relieving allergic symptoms. The most well known hazardous side effect is drowsiness and, therefore, its use ought to be made known to clients in order for them to take precautions deemed appropriate. Thus, people who have taken the above powder should consult healthcare professionals as soon as possible," the spokesman stressed.

     "On completion of our investigation, DH will seek advice from the Department of Justice regarding possible contravention of the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance (Cap 138) for the illegal sale or possession of Part I poisons and unregistered pharmaceutical products. The maximum penalty for each is $100,000 and two years' imprisonment. Besides, 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 also have occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $50,000 and six months' imprisonment," the spokesman mentioned.

     "Should any person possess the above-mentioned powder, he ought to submit it to the Chinese Medicine Division of the DH at 16/F, Two Landmark East, 100 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, during office hours for disposal," the spokesman urged.

Ends/Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:03


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