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Woman arrested for illegal sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products with banned drug ingredients on the Internet (with photo)

     A 29 year-old woman was today (June 12) arrested in a joint operation by the Police and the Department of Health (DH) in Wong Tai Sin for the suspected illegal sale of one box of "Shan Dian Shou", a slimming product with undeclared and banned drug ingredients.

     The operation followed laboratory tests today revealing that the slimming product, which had been obtained earlier from an Internet auction website during DH's surveillance operation, was found to contain sildenafil, sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

     Sildenafil is a Part I poison and is usually used for treating male sexual dysfunction. The side effects of sildenafil include low blood pressure, headaches, vomiting, dizziness and transient vision disturbances. It may interact with some drugs (such as nitroglycerin for treatment of angina) and cause a decrease in blood pressure to dangerous levels. Improper use of sildenafil may pose serious health risks, especially for patients with heart problems.

     Sibutramine is also a Part I poison and was once a Western medicine used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board because of increased cardiovascular risk. Phenolphthalein was used previously to treat constipation, but has been banned for its cancer-causing effects.

     "Products containing sibutramine or phenolphthalein are banned and are not accepted for registration as pharmaceutical products in Hong Kong. The sale of unregistered pharmaceutical products and illegal sale of Part I poisons are offences under the Pharmacy and Poisons Ordinance. The maximum penalty for each offence is a fine of $100,000 and two years' imprisonment," a DH spokesman remarked.

     During the operation, the woman was arrested by the Police for sale of unregistered pharmaceutical product and illegal sale of Part I poison. DH investigation continues.

     The spokesman asked members of the public not to buy or use products of unknown composition, whether in the marketplace or on the Internet. He also urged people to stop using the product immediately. They should consult healthcare professionals for advice if they feel unwell after taking the products concerned.

     "Weight control should be achieved through a balanced diet and appropriate exercise. Members of the public should consult healthcare professionals before using any medication for weight control," the spokesman said.

     "As the product is an unregistered pharmaceutical product and a Part I poison, people should submit it to the department's Drug Office at 3/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon, during office hours for disposal," the spokesman added.

Ends/Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:00


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