Suspected illegal supply of Western medicine by Chinese medicine practitioner (with photo)

     The Department of Health (DH) today (May 22) alerted clients of a registered Chinese medicine practitioner (CMP), Yu Kin-cho, practising at Cheung Po Tong Chinese Medicine Clinic in Tsim Sha Tsui, that if they have been supplied with a yellowish cream, they should contact CMP Yu or consult health-care professionals for advice because the cream was found to contain two undeclared Western medicines, dexamethasone and ketoconazole.

     "The appeal followed the DH's investigation into a complaint from a member of the public, who had been prescribed the yellowish cream by the CMP for one of her family members for treatment of eczema.

     "The Government Laboratory's analysis results today detected the presence of dexamethasone and ketoconazole in a sample of the yellowish cream provided by the complainant, both of which could attain therapeutic levels if used in accordance with the CMP's instruction," a DH spokesman remarked.

     "Preliminary investigation revealed that CMP Yu purchased the incriminated cream from the Mainland. The cream was intended to treat skin conditions including eczema. A total of some 40 tubes of the cream were obtained from CMP Yu's clinic for further investigation," he said.

     While the DH's investigation is ongoing, CMP Yu will assist the DH to contact his clients for medical surveillance in the meantime. The DH has not received reports of related adverse incidents thus far.

     "Dexamethasone is a steroid and a prescription-only medicine. Taking dexamethasone for a long time, especially when in substantial dosage, can cause side effects such as moon face, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, muscle atrophy, peptic ulcer and even osteoporosis. Ketoconazole is a topical antifungal medicine commonly used for fungal infection of the skin. It can cause side effects such as itching, irritation and allergic reaction. Thus, people who have used the cream should consult health-care professionals for advice," the spokesman stressed.     

     "On completion of our investigation, the 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 have also occurred. The maximum penalty involved is $50,000 and six months' imprisonment. The DH will also refer this case to the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong for possible disciplinary action," he said.

     "Should any person possess the above-mentioned cream, 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, May 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:43